Examining the Accuracy of the Polar A360 Monitor

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The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of the Polar A360 heart rate (HR) monitor during periods of rest, walking/running, and active/passive recovery from exercise. Thirty collegiate athletes (women n = 15 and men n = 15) wore an A360 monitor and a previously validated chest HR monitor (Polar RS400) that served as the criterion measurement across a range of resting and walking/running intensities. First, subjects rested in a supine, seated, and standing position. Next, each subject walked on a treadmill at 1.6 kilometers per hour (kph). Speed was increased by 1.6 kph every 2 minutes until volitional fatigue. Then, subjects walked at 4.8 kph followed by a seated recovery stage. Heart rate was recorded in 30-second increments. Total mean difference in HR readings, percent accuracy, and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) analysis established the level of agreement between devices. Bland-Altman plots and a regression were used to examine the agreement between devices. The A360 demonstrated a strong correlation with the RS400 (r2 = 0.98) across time points. The analysis of variance with repeated measures indicated an overall significant difference (p < 0.001) between devices. The A360 significantly underestimated HR during the 6.4-kph speed only (p < 0.05) (effect size 0.26). The greatest percent accuracy occurred during rest (91%) and recovery (90%). An ICC of 0.98 (SEM: 0.35) demonstrates a strong level of agreement between devices. The A360 is accurate at rest and during various walking and running speeds and thus is a device that can be used with confidence by athletes for specific training purposes. Future research should examine accuracy during weight training and other sport-specific activities.