are heart rate monitors really a bust?


Well-Known Member
I've seen this subject pop up in articles a few times now, as if someone is trying to make people stop using heart rate monitors? From what I've been reading from ME patient testimonials, heart rate monitors are one of the most helpful devices in self care. So I feel like these studies totally overlook an important target group of heart rate monitors...

“They’re selling millions and millions of these devices and so far we haven’t demonstrated a general benefit to them.”
Other recent studies also contradict the idea that the devices benefit health. One, published last month in JAMA, found that healthy young people who wore devices were less likely to lose weight than those who didn’t; another in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology found that wearing a tracker did not encourage people to exercise more.


Well-Known Member
In my opinion, pretty much states what is obvious and is already known.

1) Chest strap devices are more accurate as the article states, "nearly as accurate as an EKG." The wrist band types ranged from 91% to 83%.

2) Regarding JAMA and The Lancet (if you trust them anymore) articles; I could not find the JAMA article, but the one in Lancet only studied the device's ability to motivate you to actually do more. It compared the “device only” to cash incentives and contributions to charities as incentives. Shock, the cash group increased the most. However, even that motivation did not last long.

3) We should all know from the nightmare PACE Trial that you really have to understand how studies are conducted.

To me, if you are motivated, you will use it. If you need accuracy, go with the chest strap (which I have) or the absolutely best wrist type and use it exactly as stated.

I can relay to you my experience. According to the 2-Day CPET test done at Workwell I was given a suggested HR that I should stay below. Going above that meant my body was using anaerobic energy as opposed to aerobic energy. I do not remember the number anymore (although it is programmed in my chest-strap heart rate monitor). I wore the monitor for a few weeks to get a sense of what activities made me go outside of that zone. I could not even use the stairs without having the alarm go off and I live in a two story house. My goal each day was to do laundry and meals. What I charted was that I spent the majority of my day using anaerobic energy. This fit perfectly with the way my body felt. Tired, sore muslecles, etc.

Here is the thing; the test I took at Workwell two years ago was a two-day test, a slice of how my body functions. I rested as much as I possibly could to take the flight, etc. Every day and every week is different. Keeping that in mind, it seems to me, that sometimes my body would start utilizing anaerobic energy sooner, or possibly later, than the original guideline. And two years hence, I am overall weaker than I was then. I am quite certain that if I took the test again, the recommended heart rate zone would be different.

I have learned that I cannot get beyond the most basic needs of living without doing more harm. At this time I don't have the luxury of not preparing meals and doing laundry as I have two children at home.

The truth is everybody's needs are different. If you use it and it works, continue. And if it doesn't, don't.


Well-Known Member
@Tina thanks for sharing your experience! I agree that the fluctuating nature of the disease makes it hard to interpret a single test.

do you wear the chest strap every day? Just wondering if it is comfortable or not? (I am very sensitive to pressure, can't even wear tight clothes...)


Well-Known Member
@bobby I wore is as much as I could each day for two to three weeks to see if a particular activity affected me more, but more importantly to see how much of the day I was using "anaerobic energy." This being based off the guideline given to me by Workwell.

The heart rate monitor that I have is a Polar chest strap monitor. I don't remember the model but could get it if you are interested. I bought it in 2014 though and most technology is at warp speed.

The chest strap is not comfortable, but I got used to it. I usually took it off when I took my bath at night and did not put it on again until morning. I also had some trouble with the wrist portions losing "contact" with the chest strap portion. I think this was due to the fact that I am very slim?

What I did like is that I could "sync" my device to the Polar website and it tracked everything. I knew exactly the date/time that I used it and what the heart rate was and if I was in the zones I had set for it.

Hope this helps.


Well-Known Member
@bobby here are 3 screen shots of my Heart Rate readings. They were all taken the same morning; starting at 7:30 a.m. It is in three segments because I lost "contact" twice and had to restart. Each time you restart it is a new "session." You can get a feel for the type of information. Keep in mind there are many more things you can do with on the website, but I don't have energy for that.

You simply sync the wrist part of the heart rate monitor to your computer and that is it.


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Well-Known Member
I never really quite got how a wrist device could get a sound reading of your heart rate when it wasn't on super tight? I mean there's cell phone apps I've tried that read your heart rate by you touching your finger to a part of it but that also seems fairly silly (at least until they came out with sensors on phones it did).

Anyway I think these things are not life saving medical devices and they aren't supposed to be. The most life saving thing about a wrist at home heart monitor for a consumer (not a patient since theres no doctor monitoring that device) is a general idea.

You know it won't probably be exact no matter how much you spend. But neither is taking your pulse all that accurate with a finger since many people do it incorrectly and the math isn't dead accurate either. At best it's a general idea.

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