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Validation of heart rate responses in wearable technology devices is generally composed of laboratory-based protocols that are steady state in nature and as a result, high accuracy measures are returned. However, there is a need to understand device validity in applied settings that include varied intensities of exercise. The purpose was to determine concurrent heart rate validity during trail running. Twenty-one healthy participants volunteered (female n = 10, [mean (SD)]: age = 31 [11] years, height = 173.0 [7] cm, mass = 75.6 [13] kg). Participants were outfitted with wearable technology devices (Garmin Fenix 5 wristwatch, Jabra Elite Sport earbuds, Motiv ring, Scosche Rhythm+ forearm band, Suunto Spartan Sport watch with accompanying chest strap) and completed a self-paced 3.22 km trail run while concurrently wearing a criterion heart rate strap (Polar H7 heart rate monitor). The trail runs were out-and-back with the first 1.61 km in an uphill direction, and the 1.61 return being downhill in nature. Validity was determined through three methods: Mean Absolute Percent Error (MAPE), Bland-Altman Limits of Agreement (LOA), and Lin’s Concordance Coefficient (rC). Validity measures overall are as follows: Garmin Fenix 5 (MAPE = 13%, LOA = -32 to 162, rC = 0.32), Jabra Elite Sport (MAPE = 23%, LOA = -464 to 503, rC = 0.38), Motiv ring (MAPE = 16%, LOA = -52 to 96, rC = 0.29), Scosche Rhythm+ (MAPE = 6%, LOA = -114 to 120, rC = 0.79), Suunto Spartan Sport (MAPE = 2%, LOA = -62 to 61, rC = 0.96). All photoplethysmography-based (PPG) devices displayed poor heart rate agreement during variable intensity trail running. Until technological advances occur in PPG-based devices allowing for acceptable agreement, heart rate in outdoor environments should be obtained using an ECG-based chest strap that can be connected to a wristwatch or other comparable receiver.


Exercise Science

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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