Monday, April 3, 2023

Review of Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor

I'm a long-time trail runner that loves data. I have tracked heart rate for over 20 years. Lately there are more options, but I've been disappointed many times. The optical HR monitors on GPS running watches are notoriously unreliable. I have found them borderline useless (on 3 different Garmin watches). Seems like the technology keeps improving, but there are still issues. Tried an early version of the Scosche optical HR monitor strap, but that gave inconsistent readings and had poor battery life. Essentially, I have been resigned to using a chest strap (Garmin and Polar varieties) and they have worked fairly well. In winter they can be finicky with less sweat/moisture to create a good connection. And they never felt good on my chest. I often got chaffing with them on longer runs. For a while, I gave up on HR all together and used power (from Stryd pod) to guide my training and racing. Power is a nice metric, but I felt bad not also having HR data! I use the data during runs to keep in the correct zones and afterwards to analyze my running stats over time. 

A few months ago I bought a Polar OH-1+ heart rate sensor. It works really well! And it's comfortable. Still have a battery issue (only lasts about 10 hours), but it works for all of my training runs and any races up to 50K. 50 miles might be pushing the battery life, but I could try it. 100K and 100 milers are out of the question. Recharge is via a simple USB connection. I usually charge it once/week to keep it ready. With all of my problems with the wrist-based optical HR sensors, I had my doubts about the Polar OH1, but it delivers. Think the 6 LED sensors are better than most watch based ones, plus it is an arm strap so it's easy to put higher up my arm away from my bony wrist (I place it between my elbow and shoulder). It connects via ANT+ or BLE to devices and works seamlessly with my current Garmin 645 watch. 

If you love accurate heart rate data, but have not been happy with wrist-based optical sensors, or unhappy/uncomfortable with chest-based straps, I encourage you to try the Polar OH1 monitor. It's only $59.95 direct from Polar and you can likely find a better price on other sites. I only use it for running, so other sports might bring different outcomes. 

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