Image source: Fitbit

Heart rate tracking with Fitbits. How it works, resolving issues.

Buying a Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker with a built-in heart rate sensor is a wise investment. Such devices can let you know your resting heart rate, perhaps the best indicator of the state of your health and fitness. Lower values are commonly associated with better cardiovascular health and even longer longevity.

Heart rate-enabled devices also allow you to heart rate zone train. Most elete athletes take advantage of this. It is because heart rate zone training allows them to reach their top potential in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s all about knowing hard hard you need to work your ticker during exercise for maximum effect.

How do I track heart rate with my Fitbit?

Only a few years ago, fitness trackers with heart rate were few and far between. Now it has become the standard. Even low cost devices that will set you back $20-$30 come with built in heart rate sensors. The more sophisticated ones will even warn you if they spot irregularities in heart beats, or if your heart beat is too low or two high while resting.

You might be wondering how such devices measure heart rate. The wrist is a good place to take measurements. The wearable shines LEDs many times per second into your cappilaries. This is typically a green light but it could also be red or a combination of the two. Fitbit uses green LEDs. It also uses infrared light to determine when the wearable is sitting on your wrist.

The sensor utilizes light-sensitive photodiodes to detect how your capillaries move. They expand and contract based on blood volume changes. This allows them to calculate your heart beat per minute, typically referred to as bpm. Fitbits have the capability od detecting within a range between 30 and 220 bpm.

How to wear your Fitbit for most accurate heart rate tracking.

In order to get a good read on your heart rate, you need to make sure you are wearing your Fitbit correctly. For day to day use, there’s nothing special you need to know. Wear your Fitbit as you would normally, just above your wristbone.

With exercise there are increased movements of your wrist. To get an accurate reading you need to make sure the device is snug with good skin contact. Don’t wear it too tight as this might constrict blood-flow.

Fitbit also suggest when exercising to wear the device a finger’s width above your wristbone. The device will move less in this position which should ensure a more accurate reading.

Why is my Fitbit not tracking heart rate?

Common problems

Why is my Fitbit not tracking my heart rate?

Sometimes things go wrong and the otherwise trusty device on your wrist stops tracking heart rate and the lights below on the sensor don’t flash. Here’s what to do.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Whenever you experience a problem with a Fitbit device, the first thing to do is to give it a good old restart. This is the go-to solution if the screen on your wearable is unresponsive, if it’s not connecting to the app or if it is not tracking your activity. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our guide on how to reset your Fitbit fitness tracker or smartwatch.

This may or it may not solve the problem. If it didn’t work the first time around, it’s worth trying 2 or 3 times before giving up.

The next thing you can do is charge the battery to full capacity. This is because the heart rate tracking problem may appear if the battery is critically low as the sensor may switch off automatically.

Make sure heart rate tracking is switched on!

It may seem kind of obvious, but also double-check that you have heart rate tracking switched on! Fitbit switches this on by default but perhaps you turned it off.

On smartwatches check by opening the Settings app on the watch and tweaking the option to “On” (“On” or “Auto” for Blaze) . For Alta devices and early generations of Charge, make sure the heart rate setting is set to “Auto”.

What to do if heart rate on your Fitbit is grey, blank or frozen

If the heart rate reading on your watch is greyed out, blank or frozen – the device probably does not have a strong signal. This sometimes happens if you are moving your arm vigorously.

Give the tracker a few seconds to obtain a better reading. Things should revert to normal after that. A greyed out reading is an indicator the Fitbit is looking to secure a stronger signal.

Why is my Fitbit not tracking heart rate?

Other tips

It’s also a good idea to have a look at how you’re wearing the device. If your Fitbit doesn’t have good contact with the skin it won’t be able to reliably track heart rate.

Hopefully one of these solutions has fixed your problem. If not, there may be a bug in the software. Rest assured that Fitbit is working hard to come up with a fix. The final alternative is that your device may be faulty. It’s best to contact Fitbit Customer Support if you suspect this is the case.

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One thought on “Heart rate tracking with Fitbits. How it works, resolving issues.

  • Why does my Fitbit inspire have two hearts -the second one is resting BPM- what’s the first one BPM?


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