Tracking Parkinson’s Disease Exercise Progress with a Heart Rate Monitor

Parkinson’s Disease Exercise & Fitness Community Forums Exercise for Parkinson’s Disease Tracking Parkinson’s Disease Exercise Progress with a Heart Rate Monitor

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      Brett Warthen
      Keymaster

      Looking back on 5 years of intense exercise since my Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2014, I’m glad that my personal trainer convinced me to start wearing a heart rate monitor about 2 years ago.

      The greatest benefit is that it keeps me motivated and focused on meeting my exercise goals. The MyZone system awards points (called MEPs) for every minute spent in the various exercise intensity zones. These zones correspond to percentage of maximum heart rate.

      Exercise intensity and maximum heart rate is discussed in more detail here: https://parkinson.fit/how-much-should-i-exercise-for-pd/

      If you have PD, with no other limiting health conditions, and have consulted your doctor, you should start with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. These recommendations are outlined below:

      Minimum Weekly Exercise For Important Health Benefits
      2-1/2 hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity (i.e., brisk walking) OR 1-1/4 hours (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity (i.e., jogging or running)
      AND
      2 or more days a week: muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

      It is very important to stress that the CDC and other organizations consider these to be minimum recommendations to receive health benefits from exercise.

      Most research suggests that more exercise brings even greater benefits. In fact, for greater health benefits, the CDC recommends a target of doubling aerobic activity in the minimum recommendation.

      For Even Greater Health Benefits, increase activity to:
      5 hours (300 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity (i.e., brisk walking) OR 2-1/2 hours (150 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity (i.e., jogging or running)
      AND
      2 or more days a week: muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

      Note that the recommendation also allows for a mix of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity, where 2 minutes of moderate intensity equals 1 minute of vigorous intensity. The recommendations don’t stop there. There is no upper limit to the recommendation.

      MyZone credits 1 MEP per minute in the 50-59% range, 2 MEPs per minute in the 60-69% range, 3 MEPs per minute in the 70-79% range, and 4 MEPs per minute above 80%.

      The baseline target is 300 MEPs per week (1300 MEPs per month), which equates to 150 minutes in the 60-69% range, or 75 minutes in the 80%+ range. This matches the spirit of the CDC recommendations, MyZone just separates moderate and vigorous into 4 zones instead of only 2.

      This tracking also helps me get a better understanding of how different factors effect my exercise performance. Monitoring and comparing days helps me understand the effects of medication changes. It helps me monitor fatigue and understand how often I need to rest.

      When my neurologist asks me how much I’m exercising, it’s great to be able to pull out a report like this one below.

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