Using a heart-rate monitor for pacing

  • Community Moderator

    One of the techniques we (ME/CFSers) can use for pacing is to monitor how we're travelling, and whether we're overdoing it, is to use a heart-rate monitor (often abbreviated as HRM) for pacing. If people are happy to share their tips below, I'll collate them all in this post to provide an easy-reference tool for people to look at. The first tips come from the thread on which heart-rate monitor people use.

    Up-front, note that heart-rate monitoring is not a silver bullet - some MEEPs have found there's no clear pattern between elevated heart-rate and PEM, and for many MEEPs even basic tasks like brushing teeth can lead to elevated heart-rate - but at least in some cases it's been useful, and so it felt worthwhile to do a thread/post like this.

    • Glossary of acronyms and useful terms (click link to go to post containing glossary) - will be updated over time.

    • Using an alarm or visual indicator to highlight when your heart-rate is above what it should be. A visual indicator spotted via peripheral vision may be less jarring than an audible alarm.

    • The HRM can help indicate when to stop doing something, even something cognitive. For example, @Simone_Em_Aus would find their HR would start creeping up as they were getting tired, but before they were even aware that they were getting tired, and could try to stop the activity before reaching their threshold (if they waited until their HR got to threshold, it was often too late and they would later crash).

    • It can be helpful to look back at the heart-rate graph over the day, to see how much time has been spent over the threshold. Going over too much can be a sign that there may well be a few rough days ahead.

    • @Simone_Em_Aus found that measuring morning resting heart rate was a great way to have a gauge of how their body was that day and whether they needed to be careful and rest, or whether they could do some activity.

    Many thanks for these tips which are brought to you by the posts either in this thread, or the "which heart-rate monitor do you use" thread, from:
    @Simone_Em_Aus @SandyAtHome @Coggles77

  • Community Moderator

    Glossary of useful terms/acronyms (will be added to over time):

    AT - Anaerobic threshold - this is the load on the body where we go from a level of activity where the body can support the body's energy requirements through using oxygen-based metabolism, to using glucose to create energy - anaerobic energy production is much less sustainable than aerobic - one of the tricks to HRM is to get a feel for where our AT is, and stay under it as much as possible - it's discussed in a way that looks relevant to us here: - AT could also stand for assault terrapin.

    HRM - Heart-rate monitoring - this is what it's all about 🙂 Could also stand for Holden Racing Museum.

    HRV - Heart-rate variability - I'm still learning the game here, but it seems that this is the variability in the time between heartbeats, and is regulated by the autonomic nervous system - a low HRV can mean that it's not adapting enough, and can put extra strain on the body - the info I got was from - HRV could also stand for happy rapping veterinarians

    RHR - Resting heart-rate - One's heart-rate when awake but rested, and hasn't exerted oneself recently (and in a comfortable temperature). Could also stand for Rapidly Hurdling Rodents.

  • Thanks @Daffy_Dave for your posts. I've recently heard about a product called HeartMath which supposedly measures HRV and somehow assists with its improvement. I haven't done any research yet but was curious if anyone else has any information?

  • @SandyAtHome I did a little bit of research into this once and if I recall correctly it was very much geared towards managing emotional/psychological problems. Not to say that it wouldn't be useful for us, but it may be cheaper to just get a chest strap and monitor your HRV with a free app! Beware money grabbing, I guess.

  • For those wondering how to calculate their AT, there are two calculations you can use. Too foggy right now to post them, but I will try to do so when I'm feeling better. For now, you can try this calculator (select the "basic zones" option, the other options are tailored to setting up a specific HR monitor)

  • @river thank you.

  • Community Moderator

    @SandyAtHome Sorry to take a little while to reply (ran out of spoons yesterday). I've had a bit of a look online and the HeartMath page raises some red flags for me - very razzle-dazzle, lots of wishy-washy language with a few scientific-sounding terms thrown in, a free introductory session, and similar. I've had to parse through quite a few sites to see if they were scams or not, and I haven't dug deep enough to be sure, but HeartMath's page has a lot more in common with sites that have turned out to be scams to make me comfortable with them. I'd suggest a fair degree of caution and checking them out closely (there were at least a couple of "research papers" supporting them which looked all sorts of sketchy - lots of big words but not actually much in the way of science) if you were going to look into them further.

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