Which heart rate monitor do you use?

  • I'll throw my hat in the ring for a garmin. I ended up getting the instinct because there was a video of someone throwing it against a boulder and it was unscathed. I'm tough on gadgets. I do not want to worry about forgetting it in the shower or scraping it against something in the garden. It's not as accurate as a chest strap but I found I wasn't disciplined enough to do morning HRV readings regularly enough. I find the body battery function super helpful, and I can have a continuous 4 hrly graph of my HR so I can see if it's creeping up or down. I don't set alarms. I have POTS and I would go nuts if it told me every time I stood up I'd crossed my AT. But I can see how that would be useful.

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    @SandyAtHome I think preventing PEM is a pretty tall order. A more realistic goal is minimising PEM. I didn’t eliminate it, but was more likely to stop activity, and so my crashes were less intense.

  • @Simone_Em_Aus Thanks to everyone sharing their experience with HRM. Even though I've had ME/CFS for 18years, this is the first time I've heard of trying to minimise PEM with a heart rate monitor. (I feel a bit ignorant about it after reading all your posts!) From what I can gauge about what's been said, they can be tricky and energy consuming in themselves understanding how to work them for particular goals you want to use HRM for. Given I can't do cognitive tasks like following instructions on new gadget (and I'm so not tech-savvy) for more than a few minutes, I'm wondering if it would be too difficult for me to work out how to use it and whether it actually is worth the energy and time to use for purposes of minimising PEM. And I guess the cost? Any thoughts of whether it's worth it or sticking to trying to stay within my limits by pacing and noticing my body symptoms would be helpful. Thanks

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    @Tina It’s a tricky thing to answer. It’s important to find a monitor which is within your cognitive capabilities. Having a device which is amazing, but which you can’t figure out how to setup as you need it, isn’t going to be much value.

    I’ve never used them, but many swear by FitBits as easy to use, relatively inexpensive. And a member of the Aussie ME/CFS community developed and app for the FitBit just for pwME/CFS, to make it easier to do what we want it do (but I’ve not used the app either!).

    @Daffy_Dave has started a thread on tips for using HRMs for pacing, and no doubt others will add to it over time, so that might be something worth checking out: https://community.emerge.org.au/topic/92/using-a-heart-rate-monitor-for-pacing

    It’s tricky to weigh up whether or not it would be worth it for you. I’ve been in groups with many others who use HRM for pacing and I’ve not seen many (if any) who’ve eliminate PEM from doing it, but it can help. But not everyone finds it useful.

  • @Simone_Em_Aus I agree with all your points, especially about minimising rather than preventing PEM. When I first tried pacing with a HRM, my circumstances were not ideal. I was living with very little support and trying to maintain my house because I knew I would have to sell it. I'm on NDIS now though - early days so it's a lot of work currently - but I'm thinking that once things settle down, it might be worth trying again.

  • @Simone_Em_Aus O I am trying to understand pacing for my son who has an Apple watch. He seems unable to do anything much without going over what I think is his threshold. I would appreciate understanding how to calculate threshold etc and think a thread would be helpful for a lot of people - thanks Sim

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    Partly inspired by this thread, I've just picked up a Fitbit Sense (the reviews online rated its sensors well, and it has a crack at SpO2 overnight, which is something I want to look at for non ME/CFS reasons). No idea if I'd recommend it or not yet though - far too early to say. It has a nice screen, but that's not something I'd recommend organising one's decision around 🙂 Like @Allana , I'm also interested in working out how to calculate a sensible Anaerobic Threshold (Allana, I've stumbled across a couple of websites, which I've linked below - I'm not sure how good they are though) - although so far the numbers I'm getting are consistent with my experience in my routine, more or less. The data are helpful for getting a feel for what's going on, and managing it.



  • @Daffy_Dave Thank you everyone for your comments. I think I would like to try using a heart rate monitor for pacing and reducing PEM. What does HRV stand for?

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    @Christine At least in "Fitbit speak" it stands for heart rate variability - this is best explained here rather than by me: https://www.firstbeat.com/en/blog/what-is-heart-rate-variability-hrv/

    Further to my post above as well - Given that the Fitbit sense isn't cheap ($420 reduced on Amazon, $500 RRP) I suspect future me wouldn't recommend it just for heart-rate monitoring - there are cheaper devices that look like they do the heart-rate but without the smartwatch bells and whistles, and the other sensors and whatnot. I'm not saying that the other bits and bobs aren't useful, but I was lucky in that my finances were such I could pick something up like this at the moment, but it'd be interesting if we could get an idea from this thread the cheapest way to get decent heart-rate monitoring (and a device that would last).

  • @Daffy_Dave Thank you the article and your comments were very helpful.

  • @Simone_Em_Aus you're right. It was an unrealistic expectation.

  • @SandyAtHome mine increases massively after eating too. I've learnt to lie down for at least half an hour after eating to avoid post-meal PEM! Though I'm not great at sticking to that rule tbh...

  • @Allana this tool can help you calculate the zones: https://d-baker.github.io/HR-zone-calculator/

    I'm too foggy to explain what the different zones mean right now but we'll get there eventually!

  • @river I'm the same.... don't always rest when I should be.

  • @Jop I bought a Fitbit versa light to monitor my heart rate at rest and during movement and standing and to determine HRV and to try to prevent PEM. Also it tracks my sleep well. It works well for all things but the HRV. So I'm investigating what is going wrong there. It's been useful in showing me that I need to rest when my HR is high but at times I have no choice but to do the activity anyway. I'm still learning how to use it.

  • @Simone_Em_Aus Thanks Simone for your thoughts. I'm sorry I've not been able to get on this community forum for a few days, I appreciate your honesty that it is tricky to answer as I really do have to way up what will work for me. You're absolutely right that having an amazing device that I can't figure out how to set up is not going to be very helpful and would just put more of a load on me. Perhaps I will just stick to my own way of figuring out what works best for me with pacing and minimising PEM to the extent that I can. Thanks very much for replying!

  • @Simone_Em_Aus Please would you tell me the name of the app which was developed for people with ME/CFS? I’ve just bought a Fitbit sense and found it very easy to set up and start using. I love the graphs showing sleep stages.

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    @Christine Nice one Christine 🙂 I don't know if useful or not, but I discovered a "custom activity zone", and the capacity to tinker with the "max heart rate", which has let me customise my heart-rate zones (it brings the "fat burn" zone down to a point where on an "active" day I'll bump into it a little) and created a new custom zone below that for "a little active" that I'm hoping (and it'll probably take some refining) can be used to get an idea of how much low-level activity I can manage without it running me down. It's hidden in the link at the bottom of the screenshot below. Apologies if this is either old news or not helpful. Either way, hope the fitbit is helpful 🙂


  • @SandyAtHome I'm a bit late to this but just rereading through this thread and realized I should have responded... garmin vivosmart 4 doesn't let you set an alarm. The advertising may mislead you into thinking it does, but all it can do is alert you when it thinks your heart rate has been too high for more than 10 minutes while at rest. This is completely useless for us - in all the time I had my vivosmart, that alarm went off only once. (edited to add: this might also be how the cheaper fitbits work? But I can't remember)
    Some other garmin models like the vivoactive (which I have now) and many similar higher end watches in other brands can alert you to high and low heart rates that you configure yourself, while you are running an "activity". This is much more useful and it's what I do. I'm sure many of us would like a watch that can alert us at any time of day without needing to tap any buttons first, but unfortunately nothing like that exists, as far as I know. The good thing about only getting alerts while running an activity is that you can choose to not run one if you know you're going to go over your limit and don't want to be annoyed by the alarm.

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    @Christine said in Which heart rate monitor do you use?:

    @Simone_Em_Aus Please would you tell me the name of the app which was developed for people with ME/CFS? I’ve just bought a Fitbit sense and found it very easy to set up and start using. I love the graphs showing sleep stages.

    Sorry, @Christine! I’ve only just seen your message!

    This is the app. I don’t have a Fitbit, so I can’t help you with how to use it.


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