General Question

Poser's avatar

Does your heart rate monitor work?

Asked by Poser (7808points) August 2nd, 2008

Maybe this is a case of you-get-what-you-pay-for, but I bought a heart rate monitor from someone on Craigslist, hoping to save a few bucks. It’s an entry-level monitor, and I’m wondering if the problem it’s giving me is a function of that, or if it’s heart rate monitors in general.

The problem is that the heart rate it reads is erratic. As I’m running, I’ll glance down and see it steady for a while, and then, for a few seconds, it’ll be off by 30 or more BPM. Sometimes it’s higher, sometimes lower, so I think, on average, it comes out. The biggest problem I have with it is when it jumps way up, sometimes as high as 220, so I have no idea what my max heart rate was during my workout.

Is this my particular unit, the model, the brand, or is this just something you have to put up with when trying to monitor your hr? I just changed the batteries in both the transmitter and the receiver, and still have the same problem.

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8 Answers

La_chica_gomela's avatar

It does sound like there’s something funky going on, Poser. 220 is higher than most people’s absolute maximum. I don’t know how old you are, or whether your heart is super-strength, but most basic heart rate calculators will tell you if you’re 20, your max hr is like 200, and gets lower as you get older. Mine definitely goes up and down but not usually by more the 10 bpm unless I’ve changed my pace.

Does it slip around while you run? sometimes if mine starts to slip down, it’ll go down by 20 or so bpm, but then it usually goes down to zero pretty quickly.

sorry i dont know anything about reebok hr monitors. i use polar’s entry model, and would recommend it.

all i can tell you is that it’s not heart rate monitors in general. beyond that, i dont know if it’s that model or your particular device.

Poser's avatar

Yeah, for my age, my absolute max is 192, so I know that 220 isn’t accurate. In fact, I just got back from a six-mile run, and averaged about 150, but it said my max for the hour or so it recorded was 188. I know I didn’t exert myself up to 188. I think the average it calculated is fairly accurate—as I ran, I checked every so often, and it was usually in the 140–160 range, so 153 seems about right. But it’d be nice—especially for sprints and other more strenuous exercises—to have an accurate accounting of how fast I actually got my HR up to. I just don’t want to go spend more money on another one if I’m just going to have the same problem.

aaronou's avatar

Ya, I’d say that’s probably a glitch. I work for a running company, and I can say that I’ve never had anyone saying that they had this problem with their heart rate monitor. I’ve definitely seen other issues, but this sounds like a malfunction. I’d probably say we seem to have the best luck with Polar heart rate monitors.

breedmitch's avatar

I have one made by Polar and I lurve it.
Slightly off topic: I find it fun to wear during sex just to see what kind of a workout we’re getting. :)

Poser's avatar

Well, I guess I’ll go see about getting a Polar then. Guess that’s what happens when you try to save money.

I looked up the instructions online for my Reebok, and they said that interference can cause it to give faulty readings (above 200BPM). But I’ve noticed faulty readings even when I’m not near any source of EM radiation (that I can see). Oh well, you get what you pay for.

sanbuu's avatar

Sorry to hear that you got a faulty monitor. Those number are completely wrong, if your BPM really where at 220, you would be at a hospital right now. Depending on your age and how fit you are, your BPM should not exceed 200.
Try this little formula
220— your age,
times .60% will give you your BPM’s at low rate and then times .85% and that will give you your High rate. Stay within those borders and you will be fine.

Tommytmk's avatar

I used a Suunto T6 on and off for a few years and found it to be inaccurate; sometimes it wouldn’t even read right. I have an ICD/Pacemaker/Defibrulator (put in 3 years ago).
I just purchased a Polar F4 and had my first workout with it. The range was from 87 to 124 at the max (weight training and then 30 minutes of bicycle cardio). On the drive home (10 minutes); I left it on…...the high went to 227 and it kept beeping. I was scared because a few months after my ICD was installed; I had a malfunction and they found my HR to go up to 287….then it dropped to normal. They had to adjust the ICD. It’s now set to a low of 63 and a max of 172.
How do I know if my polar is working correctly or if it malfunctioned when it went up to 227 wile driving home from the gym? I pulled off to the side of the road, waited and it still beeped at 227; i then held it agains my chest strap and it re-adjusted…..back to 87…..i felt ok, but was mentally exaused from worry. What could be the problem?

jeremy's avatar

Yeah!!!! if it is not a malfunction….???? I have a polar 200sd and i took it on a bike ride today, a 56 mile ride.

i’m a 32 year old ironman triathlete. i race in 6+ mile open water swims under rough conditions. i hit max heartrate 184 (98%) on all my run bike and swim workouts.

today on my 56 mile ride i got max heartrate 227(121%) burned calories = 3416.

i took pictures of the polar readings, they’re posted online at
so it’s not that i’m misremembering or trying to slander polar. i hope it’s a malfunction as i never had this problem before, my MD gave me a thorough exam before my last ironman… at that time my resting heartbeat was down into the low 40s when i relaxed but sometimes low 50s just walking around. ... on the ride for a few minutes it couldn’t get a reading and i had to rewet the strip.

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