Which Pedometers Will Work Underwater?

Misfit Speedo Shine

Do you want to track your steps in the pool as you do water walking or water aerobics? Most pedometers and fitness bands are water-resistant, but that only protects while walking in the rain or when you wear them into the shower. "Waterproof" and "rated for swimming" are much higher standards. A trip through the washing machine is bad news for most pedometers, as many of us have discovered.

Waterproof Fitness Trackers

As fitness bands evolve, there are a few which are waterproof and rated for use when swimming or in the pool.

Fitbit Flex 2: This is the first waterproof Fitbit, rated to 50 meters. You can wear it in the pool and it will count steps for water walking. It can automatically detect a swimming workout, although you must first enable this option as it is turned off by default. You turn it on in the app under Account, Goals, Exercise, Swimming, Auto-recognize. To track pace and distance you enter the pool length into the app before starting a swim (it becomes the default). It doesn't count steps during a swim workout when you track it this way. Buy from Amazon.com

Misfit Shine: The Speedo Shine includes swim lap counting for all stroke types. It is waterproof to 50 meters and can be worn on a wristband or clasp. Out of the pool, it tracks walking and sleep like the other Misfit Shine versions. The stylish Misfit Shine and the Misfit Flash are waterproof and can be worn in the pool. They will track swimming workouts but don't count laps. You can use them for water walking and water aerobics. Buy from Amazon.com

Polar: The Polar Loop and Polar A300 are waterproof and can be worn swimming. Both will measure the intensity of your activity while swimming, as well as recording steps. Keep in mind that you probably aren't logging steps when swimming, but you are burning calories (lots of them!) The Loop detects the form of your activity and aims to give you full credit for the effort you are putting into your workout.

Garmin: The Garmin vivofit and Garmin vivosmart activity bands are waterproof to 5 ATM, which is good enough for surface swimming. They can be paired with an ANT+ chest strap heart rate monitor to record your exertion while you are in the water. Buy Garmin vivofit from Amazon

Apple Watch 2: This version of the Apple Watch is water-resistant to 50 meters and it tracks swim workouts with its Workout feature. You can set the length of the pool and it will also count laps. During your swim, it will show workout duration, active calories burned, laps, and distance and it can show heart rate. Buy from Amazon.com

If you intend to use any of these for diving, snorkeling or scuba diving, be sure to check the depth rating. Go too deep and even a "waterproof" device won't take the pressure.

Will a Pedometer Accurately Count Pool Walking?

Would a simple pedometer really count water walking steps? The Misfit Shine and the Polar Loop use complex motion-sensing algorithms to detect what type of activity you are doing and give you activity credit. But an unsophisticated pedometer simply tracks up-and-down motion.

The motion of water walking is different from land walking, and you might not get the same motion that would record a step on a pedometer that tracks motion in only one or two axes. On land, you jiggle up and down with each step, which the pedometer detects and records a step. Your movement in the water might not be the same.

To test the accuracy of a waterproof pedometer for step counting, try counting your steps manually while you walk in the pool. See how closely it matches the pedometer after 100, 200, and 300 steps.

Extra Credit for Water Walking

When it comes to energy expenditure, you really should count your pool steps as 120 - 150 steps per minute, a little more than you would be logging if you walked 3 miles per hour. It takes more energy to walk in the pool than to walk on land.

Waterproofing a Non-Waterproof Pedometer

Encase a pedometer in a plastic baggie. Clip it to a headband. Now go water walking. Count your steps across the pool. Unclip your pedometer and see how many it has recorded. If it is fairly accurate, you may want to make that your method of using a pedometer for pool walking steps.

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