I get email every couple of months from walkers who would like to track their steps in the pool as they 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.
As fitness bands evolve, there are two which are waterproof and rated for use when swimming or in the pool. The stylish Misfit Shine is waterproof and can be worn in the pool. Not only that, but it will track swimming workouts. Certainly you can use it for water walking and water aerobics. Full Review: Misfit Shine.
The Polar Loop is also waterproof and can be worn swimming. It 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. Full Review: Polar Loop
I've seen less-expensive waterproof pedometers advertised. I haven't tested any personally as I rarely swim or do water walking. Search for "waterproof pedometer" or visit that category on Amazon.com to see what they list.
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.
I think 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, you should count 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.
Pedometer Step Equivalents for Other Activities
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.
My friend Elizabeth has worked as a stage costume designer and she has an old theater tip for keeping your electronics dry. But I don't know that I'd be wearing her suggestion on my head at the pool.