Heart Rate Monitoring
Many people with ME are now using Heart Rate monitors as an energy management strategy to more accurately pace their daily activity and monitor their body's responses to physical exertion.
In October 2021 we conducted a survey to capture how people with ME currently use HR Monitoring. You can read more about this here
There are as yet no defined protocols for heart rate monitoring and people with ME are using lots of different methods. A heart rate could be set as a limit (to aim to stay under) or as a guide (to aim to minimise time spent above). You could also use it as part of an assessment period to assist with symptom and activity analysis and help with future energy management planning.
Heart Rate Monitoring for energy management is NOT the same as using heart rate to set "zones" for exercise. Where in exercise training a person would be encouraged to work at or exceed certain target zones. For people with ME, the heart rate is used as a way to indicate that they are working too hard so that can reduce their energy expenditure.
Remember that any treatment for someone with ME should be individual, constantly monitored and evaluated, and we would recommend exploring all the resources below further before considering using this method, ideally with support from an experienced health professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
What device would you recommend?
We are unable to recommend any single device, it is very dependant on budget and requirements. This website written by a person with lived experience has guidance on recommended devices and further resources.
How can I learn more about the background to this method?
We have produced two podcasts about HR monitoring.
There is a published case study on using HR monitoring as part of physiotherapy management of ME.
How do I use HR monitoring in practice?
The use of heart rate monitors is very individual so there is no single protocol.
The Workwell Foundation have produced a brief factsheet.
Support groups offer a valuable source of information and peer support:
You can explore how others have utilised HR monitoring in blogs such as:
What is heart rate variability?
Heart rate variability (HRV) is another way of monitoring the body's physiology and is becoming a common function on many commercially available devices. HRV monitoring is used anecdotally by people with ME and also in research, to give information regarding the autonomic nervous system.
More information regarding HRV monitoring will be posted in future.