Do you have a treadmill at home that makes your heart rate monitor go nuts? I do. Two of them (wore out the old one). The newest is the worst.
I’ve used heart rate monitors for many years. My old one (very old - simple analog) had trouble getting along with my treadmill, so I asked in shops what I could do. I was told a coded analog (Polar type) would withstand the interference. So I bought one (expensive bugger). But when I tried it, it wasn’t any better than the old one. Sure, it had way better features, but it didn’t do the job I bought it for.
Over time I learned to live with the problem. I eventually found that I could use an elastic strap (ball bungee) to attach the watch to a specific place on the treadmill, where the interference was less pronounced. But every time I upped the speed on the treadmill quickly, it would go nuts for a while before settling down.
After I got the new treadmill, I renewed my quest to find a heart rate monitor that would withstand the heavy interference. I found this page dedicated to Digital Heart Rate Monitor. According to this page, a digital watch will manage to cut through the resistance. I started looking at a Timex, but A) it’s expensive, and B) users report that they can’t use technical fabrics - which is all I use when working out. So I put it on the backburner again.
Then I swung by a store during a sale, and saw an aging watch that was marked down. I checked it out and it had a digital mode (switchable - also has analog mode that works with fitness equipment). Not knowing anything about it, I bought it, thinking I could return it if it turned out to be terrible. Oregon Scientific SE212 has a reputation for not being reliable, and there are as many pissed off users as there are satisfied ones. But I decided to put it to the test anyway:
I used the old treadmill, and attached it (via the handbar attachment that came with it - now THAT is a good idea) to the bar holding the pulse monitor handgrips - a place there’s normally a great deal of interference. It was rock solid at normal speed. I did four sprints - all at different top speeds. The first and third, it seemed to be showing the right pulse rate - I’ve used pulse monitors so long, I know what it should look like at higher speeds. The second sprint, it totally lost the plot. Went up quickly, about 10 beats per interval, and ended up at over 200 for a while before it again showed realistic numbers. The fourth sprint, it went up about 10 beats above what it should be for one interval, and then fell back down to realistic.
I tested several monitors and belts. The oldest analog one went to zero if I touched the pulse monitor that was built into the old treadmill, and also when I attached it to the handbar attachment it went to zero. The same thing happened regardless of what belt I used with the old watch. The coded Polar one had no trouble from the pulse monitor interference - it’s the motor that gives that one trouble. I also noticed something else - the Oregon Scientific belt, set to digital, would cause the old Polar watch to indicate double beats - but no number appeared on the display. I wonder if the belt isn’t really digital, just digitally coded. Big difference, in my opinion.
Conclusion so far (still have to test the new treadmill) is that a digital heart rate monitor is better at sorting out interference than a uncoded analog one. But it could lose the plot now and then. I can’t find the quotation now, but think I remember that this watch/belt uses 5kw FM signal. Other brands use other frequencies. It’s about as good as the coded Polar at handling interference - not much better.
I’d like to know what experiences others have had with other brands? E-mail me if comments are off.
Probably the cheapest digital heart rate monitor is the Garmin FR60 (Forerunner 60). It’s about double what I paid for mine, and much newer and has accessories. Has anyone tried it with an impossible treadmill?