HR monitor that works

I have been experimenting with a range of heart rate monitors for exercise but struggle to find one that would constantly give readings. I've gobe through Garmin and some unbranded straps, and had no luck with them.

With optical readers I've tried Garmin forerunner 35 and 220, but both work once or twice, and after its pot luck if they record more than few minutes.

I've gone for Polar OH1, which first few times worked perfectly, and then again no reading. That was returned and replaced on warranty and the replacement device did the same.

Now I'm getting the picture its me (and the pacemaker) and not the hr monitors.


Any suggestions or advice of what to do or which device to use?


Use a chest strap - like the Polar H10 or similar

by ar_vin - 2021-03-06 16:26:36

The optical sensors don't work well.


Chest straps don't work for everyone

by crustyg - 2021-03-06 17:49:37

I asked the EP-techs at my last in-person PM interrogation (small adjustment so had to be in the clinic) and got a slightly odd look - I should have known the answer.

Chest straps use Lead 1 - and the QRS complex voltage can be quite small in this lead for some folk, which would explain why the monitor works for a while and then when skeletal muscles start working their voltages swamp the already small heart Lead 1 signal and you lose the HR output.

Some contributors here have never had a chest strap work for them (for the above reasons).  And, as has already been pointed out, most of the optical readers (==pulseox by another name) don't work well during exercise.

I'm afraid it might be that you aren't going to find a commercial chest strap that works reliably for you.  Hospital 12-lead ECG machines a) have much better amplifiers, b) have ways of removing skeletal muscle interfering voltages, c) are used when you are at rest.  Ask your Docs for a copy of your most recent ECG - I suspect that you'll see that Lead 1 is quite low voltage.


Lead voltage

by Katja3 - 2021-03-06 19:21:25

Thanks for the comments.

Yes Crustyg, my both leads indeed are with really low voltage. They seem to always amaze the technicians, who comment every time of how well they must be placed to get such a good response.

Anycase, I ordered now Polar chest strap. I have not tried one yet, so I give it a go. I'm wondering if the activity watches would work better. I had a basic Fitbit few years and it worked well, but I got annoyed after they sold it (privacy issues) so I sold the watch on. Maybe some bogus fitbit account and really  basic watch that has Bluetooth or ant+ ?

Heath Robinson might be the answer

by crustyg - 2021-03-07 04:43:44

I was thinking about this, if it applied to me.  There's plenty of voltage available if one moves away from Lead 1.  Any of the V-lead positions (except V1) would work.  There are plenty of re-usable TENS pads (with little 2mm connectors) that I could rig up to attach to the *inside* of a chest strap which also stops the chest strap from seeing Lead 1 signals. A short length of wire to a matching pad for the V-lead positions and that shoud give a reliable HR signal.  Probably the biggest challenge is getting or making a pair of leads with 2mm plugs at each end.  Again the TENS market probably has something, otherwise I'd fire up a soldering iron and make them from scratch.

That would give you an ANT+ chest strap (easy to wear) that worked, using V2 or V3.  And all you care about is ventricular rate during exercise. A bit of a fiddle to set up each time, but if it made the difference between being able to see HR and not (and having no recording) then I would go for it.

apple watch

by Tracey_E - 2021-03-07 11:39:23

Oh, it's definitely us! Pacers and monitors rarely mix. I spent literally years trying out different monitors, bought and returned a handful, tried others out in the store. I never found one that worked even remotely well and kept a pulse oximeter in my gym bag for when I didn't feel well. I got an Apple watch two years ago, never expecting the hr feature to work. I just wanted to listen to music and go for a run without my phone. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's quite accurate. 

light based

by dwelch - 2021-03-09 10:14:27

The light based ones (clip on your finger) are not based on your electrical system so should have a much better chance if not complete success.  Yes while goofy to wear a clip (there are likely some that you can tape or strap on) if you feel the need to know your rate and are not having success with electrical signal based ones, you can get one of these for like $15 and give it a shot.

Now a side note is we have a very good heart monitor that works....implanted...They could add a feature to the smart phone app to show the rate, but you would burn through a ton of battery on your device if you used it as a monitor and used it too often/too much.   technically possible, might be a fun cool toy/app, but not necessarily practical.


Apple Watch

by JayKay - 2021-03-21 07:14:48

I'm with Tracy. The Apple Watch works well for me.

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