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Do Heart Rate Monitors Work in Water? 23 item(s) in your basket

by The Fitsense Team Fitness Articles

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Do Heart Rate Monitors Work in Water?
Will my heart rate monitor work in Water? Most Heart Rate Monitors are water resistant to 20, 30, 50 or 100 metres depending upon the model. Most 20-50 metre water resistant HRMs are only suitable for surface swimming, not scuba diving.

Generally, heart rate monitors will not work in the water becuase the transmitter communicates with the watch/wrist unit using radio (FM) waves which do not work terribly well under water. They are designed to transmit in the air. It is possible to get a good reading in the pool only when your chest area, and the transmitter, is clear of the water. This is the same for all chest strap type Heart Rate Monitors. So for Aqua Aerobics or if you are a Personal Trainer and you are checking the heart rate when the chest is out of the water then they work very well but during swimming where the chest is unser the water they will not work.

The unit will not be damaged in the water, but it will generally not record heart rate while swimming. Some people have seen it work bit it is inconsistent.

For swimming, there are two main options:

1) By using the hand held device the swimming coach will get an ECG accurate heart rate within 3 - 5 seconds of grabbing hold of the unit heart rate reading at the end of a set of lengths.

2) Wrist watch style strapless HRMs. The new Oregon Scientific SE138 is ideal for pool use as the heart rate sensor contacts are not buttons. The user just places their fingers on the metal contacts for 5 or 6 seconds to get an ECG accurate heart rate reading.

We recommend in most models that you should not press any buttons under water. See user's manual for details. Heart rate measurement in a water environment is technically demanding for the following reasons:

Pool water with a high chlorine (or bromine) content, as well as seawater, may be very conductive and the electrodes of a transmitter may get short circuited and ECG signals cannot be detected by the transmitter unit.

Jumping into the water or strenuous muscle movement during competitive swimming may cause water resistance that shifts the transmitter on the body to a location where it is not possible to pick up the ECG signal.

The ECG signal strength varies depending on the individual's tissue composition. The percentage of people who have problems in heart rate measuring is considerably higher in a water environment than in other uses.

In the watch industry the water resistance is generally indicated as metres of water pressure, meaning a static pressure of water at the level in question. Most manufacturers' apply the same indication system, as it is well known and water resistance is an essential feature of the heart rate monitor.

It should be noted that when performing any underwater activity, the dynamic pressure generated by movement through the water is greater than the static pressure. Generally, all the Heart Rate Monitors we sell are fine for use while doing Aqua Aerobics or similar excercise in the water, swimming and showering, but not for under water activity like scuba diving.

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