Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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Just got a Fitbit Charge HR - what do I need to know?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by sickntired771, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. sickntired771

    sickntired771

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    I just got a fitbit charge HR and was wondering what I need to know/any settings I should change to make it effective for ME/CFS?

    Should the heart rate be on continuously or on auto?

    Can I have it buzz or alert me if I go above my threshold?

    How do you best track it or use it to know what you can/cant do. I am totally new to this but excited to see if it helps me.
     
  2. BurnA

    BurnA Senior Member

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    I have one too. I don't remember much setup. I just wear it everyday and check my heart rate if i end up walking longer than i planned or if i feel i might be overdoing it. I know from experience if my HR goes above 120bpm i am in danger territory so i try to keep below that. This means stopping in my tracks when i am walking and waiting a minute or two for it to settle down before i start walking again.
    Whats the difference between auto or continuously ?

    I check the graphs about once a week on the phone app just out of interest.
     
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  3. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I just researched different kinds of HR monitors and decided on a Polar A300 with a chest strap--I chose this one to track HR rhythms. What I learned was that those without a chest strap were more accurate when you were moving and active and less accurate (from a medical standpoint) when you were resting.

    There are similarities though between the fitbit charge and the one I bought, though. I download the graph each day, keep the activity monitor with alerts on during the day and check my sleep each morning. I find these devices a very helpful too.
     
  4. Vasha

    Vasha Senior Member

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    Hi @sickntired771 -
    I have one of these. I have not found a way to set a buzz/alert (I can do that with my chest strap monitor), so I just look at it occasionally like BurnA does. I think you want to set it on continuous. I believe 'auto' averages the heart rate, which is not nearly as useful--but I could be wrong about the difference.

    One thing I recommend is checking the readings against another device, like a blood pressure cuff/HR monitor. I have found that the FitBit can be quite inaccurate, especially when my HR is high or changing rapidly (which is always, with dysautonomia). For example, the FitBit may read 110-115 bpm, but my much more accurate Omron monitor says 140-150.

    As note: FitBit have been sued in a class action over inaccuracy. I don't know if that will go anywhere, but I think it's helpful, and maybe important, to be sure you have a sense of when you might need to adjust how you use information from the FitBit.

    Hope this helps!

    -Vasha

    edited to fix brain fog induced mush
     
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  5. sickntired771

    sickntired771

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    In my very preliminary read it seems to be accurate when I am not moving so either resting or standing and not moving. If I am moving it seems it can be off by 15 points which is not good. Just walking my pulse oximeter showed 120 but fitbit showed 95. I am mostly just seeing the average versus exertion to better understand so it doesn't necessarily need to be accurate but in the ball park would be good.
     
  6. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I think it is ballpark. I read some really good articles by the makers of various devices explaining the differences between optical tracking (the wrist only monitors) and the chest strap versions. For myself I need medical accuracy but for most ballpark would be fine.
     
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  7. Vasha

    Vasha Senior Member

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    Ah, yes--this sounds about like what I have noticed. It is definitely less accurate when I am moving/standing.
    I just try to adjust up based on my comparisons if the FitBit reading is over 100, or especially 110--but I also try to check with the BP cuff at least a couple of times a day.
     
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  8. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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  9. sickntired771

    sickntired771

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    Do you find the Fitbit to be higher or lower than your actual HR reading? So far I find it to be lower which I guess is less alarming when I look at the graph.

    The only thing that is annoying is that I am trying to stay below the heart rate exercise levels yet this thing wants me to kick it up. Damn it I have ME doesn't this know! lol
     
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  10. halcyon

    halcyon Senior Member

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    I've not had any accuracy problems with the Charge HR. It's always closely matched manual readings and what the BP machine says. I'm housebound so I'm not worried about accuracy during walking/exertion.

    The readout on the display is definitely not instantaneous and it can sometimes take it a few seconds to catch up with rapid changes. It's good enough that I can demonstrate my POTS with it though.

    There is no threshold alarm on this device. I just tend to check my HR during different activities when I start getting symptoms so I know mentally what my thresholds are and then I can just spot check it during those activities later and lay down if I'm going over a safe HR.

    I find this amusing too, that we're using the device in the exact opposite way that was intended. They should let us reverse the goals so that we get awarded for the least amount of steps or the lowest heart rate and fewest calories burned, etc.
     
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  11. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I am doing the same thing. Luckily I found a tech savvy person wanting to measure the same things that I want to measure and his posting guided me as to how to set up my Polar. You can manually set your zones so that it will display on a scale (right below the HR display) where you are on your own scale. I find the sleep analysis helpful too.
     
  12. Vasha

    Vasha Senior Member

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    The FitBit is lower than my BP monitor--by anywhere from 15 to 35 bpm. Some of it is probably the "catch-up" issue @halcyon already mentioned. But I definitely would not rely on it to keep me from going too far up in HR.

    I have the same don't you know I have ME problem with my chest strap monitor. :) I had to tell it I was something like 98 years old to persuade it to let me set the alarm at my anaerobic threshold--it just doesn't allow for people to have their danger zone be 89 bpm unless they are very elderly. :)

    -Vasha
     
  13. sickntired771

    sickntired771

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    What do you guys think it is about exceeding a certain heart rate that makes us worse yet healthy people should want to exceed their heart rate to be healthy and keep fit. So bizarre.

    Also, I don't understand why I am "fat burning" and in exercise zones when I mainly lay around all day. It's pretty scary that going down a few stairs really jets me up as if I am running a marathon.
     
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  14. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    It could be that we have a much lower anaerobic threshold so the usual HR guidelines and zones don't work for us.
     
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  15. Vasha

    Vasha Senior Member

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    IIRC, @Sushi is right about the lowered anaerobic threshold. I believe Stevens, Snell et al. found that ME/CFS patients had a lowered AT compared to sedentary controls, though it was the decline in capacity on Day 2 of the exercise test that showed PEM physiologically. People with primary mitochondrial disease can also have lowered ATs.

    My AT is 89 (per the 2-day CPET), which is low even for ME/CFS, I think. My resting HR is about 65-70. That doesn't leave a lot of leeway before hitting the wall! Just getting up will do it sometimes. My guess is that limited leeway is true for a lot (all?) of us, probably to different degrees. So some people can walk for awhile, even do some exercise, some people can't even sit up without going over. After I had the test, they explained it to me in that way--stay under the AT, so you don't hit "the wall," because that will result in PEM.

    As far as the "fat burning" and other zones are concerned, FWIW, I ignore those. They're based on parameters for healthy people, and I'm not sure they're too meaningful anyway. They are making assumptions about some really complicated and individualized biochemistry. But that's my curmudgeonly opinion of exercise apps. :) And they might loosely correlate to the work your body is doing physiologically--i.e., it IS exercise for you to go down a few stairs.

    -Vasha
     
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  16. adreno

    adreno PR activist

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    The paradox is that healthy people improve their AT by going over it. But it seems that our bodies does not adapt to this kind of training. On the other hand, I wonder if our not training will continue to lower our AT.
     
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  17. Vasha

    Vasha Senior Member

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    I worry about this too--it is a conundrum. OTOH, when I had the test, I did not know what was wrong, and was quite active, including doing physical therapy and trying to walk more each day.* I had been very fit until about half a year prior, so it seems unlikely I could have ended up with such a low AT from inactivity.

    Stevens et al. recommend "analeptic" exercise--meaning stretching and resistance without ever going over the AT, and only for a very short time each time. My physical therapist (who is some kind of awesome) read their paper and immediately got it. She found an old photocopy of guidelines for post-polio patients and showed it to me. It is the same idea--never, never, never do more than 20% of maximum capacity. That was considered dangerous.

    -Vasha

    *Guess how that went? :j I just could not figure out why each week, I'd end up unable to climb the stairs after two or three walking sessions. And I just kept getting worse, not stronger.
     
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  18. Mesurfer

    Mesurfer

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    Beware of the rubber straps peeling and disconnecting from the area where the display is. I've had mine for 4 months and it is falling apart.
     
  19. sickntired771

    sickntired771

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    Are you guys concerned at all about trying so hard not to go above the AT? I mean, yes it might preserve our energy but long term is this lack of exercising the heart potentially dangerous in terms of heart disease?

    I don't know, I know I can't exercise without feeling crappy but I also feel my heart is so deconditioned I would like to improve that.
     
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