Troubleshoot False Heart Rate Monitor Readings

All too often, runners that wear heart rate monitors have problems with their devices telling them an inaccurate beats per minute (BPM) number. It may seem like nothing major at first, but eventually the monitor could be telling one that their heart rate has surpassed 190 BPM. Typically, activity on the monitor will show regular heart rate readings, jump to abnormal readings, then even back out. There are several reasons why this may occur while one wears a heart monitor.


  • Cold Air Means Dry Air: Since cold air is dry, a body ends up producing less sweat than normal. This, in effect, causes the monitor to lose its ability to properly read a heart rate due to low conductivity.
  • Quick Dry Synthetic Shirts: Although quick dry shirts have recently become a popular alternative to heavy cotton shirts, they also cause problems with heart rate readings. This occurs if both the skin and the weather are dry and eventually create a store of static electricity that alters the readings.
  • Wind Force: Oddly enough, if one is biking and uses a heart rate monitor, there is a chance the readings will be inaccurate due to how fast they’re traveling or even if wind hits a certain way. Static electricity or vibrations can occur from strong wind forces that also give off incorrect readings.


Fortunately, there are ways to remedy these problems and ensure one has an accurate heart rate reading at the end of a workout:


  • Perspiration: The more one exercises, the more it causes the body to sweat quicker. The sooner the body starts sweating, the sooner it will create moisture and increase conductivity. This, in effect, allows the device to get an accurate reading.
  • Create Moisture: In order to help the heart rate monitoring strap stick to skin in dry weather, applying moisture is most useful. Two ways to do this are by using a heart rate gel or even licking it. Licking the strap only for a small period of time during the run, though, as that moisture will eventually dry up, whereas the heart rate gel lasts much longer.


It’s important to receive accurate readings from heart rate monitors because runners that may already have a heart condition should know the correct rate at which their heart is beating. Over-the-counter heart rate monitors can help you keep track of your heart rate. But for comprehensive ECG monitoring, see your doctor, who can prescribe a mobile cardiac monitor, such as the advanced monitors from Medicomp.  Learn more about Medicomp’s products by contacting us at 800-23-HEART.

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