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6 Ways Continuous Heart Rate Tracking Gets You Closer to Your Goals
by Alice Oglethorpe

In the past, knowing how fast your heart was beating involved wearing an uncomfortable chest strap. But now, continuous heart rate tracking is available on a variety of wrist-based Fitbit devices thanks to PurePulse Technology. That means whenever you’re wearing your compatible Fitbit tracker or smartwatch, your pulse is automatically tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You may think that’s just a cool perk, but continuous heart rate monitoring is actually integral to many of the other functions your device performs. From sleep stages to calorie-burn tracking, using a device with 24/7 heart rate tracking can help you get a leg up on your health and fitness goals. Here’s how:

Goal: Weight Loss
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Calories burned

How it helps: Anyone who wants to drop pounds knows it’s all about the calorie deficit: Your body needs to burn off more calories than you’re taking in. Gauging how much you eat is relatively easy (especially if you’re a food logger) but knowing how many calories you burn? Because the body burns more calories at higher heart rates, that’s a bit more difficult—unless you have access to continuous heart rate monitoring.

To estimate your calories burned, Fitbit takes into account your basal metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories at rest), activity recorded by your tracker, and any activities you manually log. Together, this data helps your device better estimate your daily calorie burn. Give it a shot: 3 Stair Climber Workouts to Help You Get Fit, Fast.

Goal: Efficient Workouts
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Heart rate zones

How it helps: When you exercise, your pulse gets faster and faster, moving through different heart rate zones. First it enters a fat-burning zone, then it goes into a more intense cardio zone, and ultimately it gets into a peak zone, which happens when you’re going all out.

Knowing which zone your heart rate is in throughout your workout helps ensure you’re exercising at the right intensity for your specific goals. Fitbit devices with PurePulse not only show your real-time heart rate and heart rate zones during exercise, but afterwards, you’ll also be able to see a heart rate-based summary of your workout in the Fitbit app. Get in the zone: How to Burn Fat Fast with Target Heart Rate Training.

Goal: Heart Health
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Resting heart rate

How it helps: A lot of heart rate monitors tend to get worn solely during exercise. And while that’s useful (see above!), it can also be helpful to track something called resting heart rate (your pulse at rest). If you’re active and not taking a beta blocker, having an average resting heart rate that’s on the lower side tends to mean you’re fit and that your ticker is humming along efficiently.

Many Fitbit devices let you see your resting heart rate right on your wrist, but you can also view your resting heart rate trends week by week and month by month in the Fitbit app. By keeping an eye on this statistic over time, you’ll be able to see whether or not all your work at the gym is impacting your overall heart health. Learn 5 More Things Your Resting Heart Rate Can Tell You About Your Health.

Goal: Overall Fitness
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Cardio fitness score

How it helps: It can be tough to figure out how fit you really are—and if your fitness level is where it should be. But if you use a Fitbit device with continuous heart rate and connected GPS or GPS capability, Fitbit can estimate your VO2 Max, a measure of fitness based on how well your body uses oxygen during strenuous exercise. In the app, this is referred to as your Cardio Fitness Score.

Fitbit can calculate your Cardio Fitness Score in two ways. The default method is based on your resting heart rate, age, gender, weight, and other personal information and will show your Cardio Fitness Score as being within a range (i.e. 42-46). To get a more precise cardio fitness estimate, use the exercise app to track a 10-minute (or longer) run on a flat course with GPS.

Once Fitbit has determined your Cardio Fitness Score, it will calculate your Cardio Fitness Level, which places your score into one of five ranges—Poor, Fair, Average, Good, Very Good, or Excellent—to demonstrate how your aerobic fitness compares to other people of the same age range and gender. Learn 5 More Big Reasons to Improve Your Cardio Fitness Score and How to Boost Your Score.

Goal: Stress Management
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Relax

How it helps: You know how your heart can race when you feel stressed out? When you use the Relax app, your PurePulse-enable device will guide you through a two- or five-minute deep-breathing session based on your current heart rate. Sixty-seven percent of people who use Relax experience a decrease in heart rate, according to Fitbit data. Separate research also shows that deep breathing for just 30 seconds can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Five minutes not long enough? Take relaxation to the next level with this 10-Minute Relaxation Technique for Total-Body Calm.

Goal: Better Sleep
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Sleep Stages

How it helps: As your body goes through the different sleep stages at night—light, deep, and REM—your heart beats at different speeds. This data, combined with how much you’re moving, helps Fitbit estimate how long you’ve spent in each sleep cycle, as well as how restless you were and your total time spent asleep. Notice you aren’t feeling rested? Check your stats and see if there might be a connection between how much deep sleep you got and when you exercised or how much wine you had with dinner. For more information, read REM, Light, Deep: How Much of Each Stage of Sleep Are You Getting?

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Fitbit Charge 6
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.