Wednesday 20 August 2014

Rhythm+ and Endomondo: HR monitoring for ME

I have once again taken up monitoring my heart rate (HR) to help manage ME.

The system I use combines the Rhythm+ armband monitor, with the Endomondo app for my iPhone. [Edit Jan 2015 I now use a Mio Alpha HR monitor, which also "talks" to Endomondo.]

Heart Rate Monitor:  Rhythm+ by SCOSCHE 

The monitor "optically measures blood flow" - which basically means it uses lights.  The promotional material says it is for use on the forearm but I have also strapped it to my ankle successfully.  

It charges via a handy docking station, so no expensive batteries.  The blue dots are my addition so that I put it in the right way around!

The device is MUCH more comfortable than a chest strap monitor, and also seems to transmit much more reliably.  In fact provided there are no solid walls in the way, it can transmit across quite a distance.

The thing that felt strange at first, was that the monitor doesn't have it's own readout.  However, it sends the data via bluetooth to a variety of phone apps. I chose Endomondo.

Phone App: Endomondo

Once monitor and app are all set up to communicate with each other, this is very simple to use. And it is not just a HR monitor, you can also link it to your phone's GPS and so see where you've been on a map and track your speed and distance!

I mostly just use the HR feature and the read out looks like this.

 The slider at the bottom appears so that the display continues, but the screen is locked.

After finishing the "session" a summary can be accessed:

And also a time-line, showing how HR varied through out the activity:

There is also a chart showing how long was spent in each "zone".  I edited these zones online so that the the boundaries between the zones are: 60, 80, 100, 120 and 140.  

Here you can see I spent almost 3 minutes above 120 bpm.

The phone data is only available immediately after the session.  However the data is transferred to your online Endomondo account via Wifi.  All the sessions are then stored for later analysis.

The graph in particular is easier to interpret online.  

There is a facility to tag and name each session.  I tend not to bother, but rather just use the system for feed back whilst active, and then when I review things later that day on the computer.

Anyway, it's all very interesting, and I think monitoring my HR is definitely helping me understand where I spike my HR and therefore what activities I need to be careful with....

..... more thoughts on that later.

In the mean time I hope others have found this review useful, and might be encouraged to also start monitoring their activities.

It's not going to "cure" ME, but hopefully as a sort of budgeting tool, this can prevent me from becoming "over-drawn" on my energy account and incurring a high-interest payback later.

PS [Jan 2015]
I now use a Mio Alpha HR monitor that has some advantages over the Rhythym+
1. It has a read out like a watch

2. It can run all day on an overnight charge
3. It has an alarm function that beeps when my HR goes too high.
It can also "talk" with Endomondo on my phone so that I still get my pretty graphs!

Sue Jackson describes her Mio Alpha in a blog post here

Some more of my Heart Rate Monitoring posts can be found here: Just ME INDEX 

Other posts on Monitoring Activities for Pacing:
Monitoring ME: Part 1 - Fitbit Sept 2014
A few notes on using a HR Monitor for Pacing Feb 2014


  1. Thank you Sally, this is really interesting and I will share with my OT next week when we discuss setting up this for the girls.

    1. Glad you think it's helpful Tanya. Happy to answer any questions that arise. I have another couple of posts on the same theme on the way.

  2. Hi Sally
    I find my chest strap uncomfortable sometimes so I'm interested in armband alternatives. Can you get this to alert you when your heart rate is high? That function is really useful to me. It's always hard to pinpoint cause and effect in ME (/POTS?), but since I've used a monitor to limit time over 110bpm I've reduced frequency of 'concrete legs' (unable to walk).


    1. I'm not sure Jenny, but I think it is the Endomondo app that means that there is no alarm. I know the Rhythm+ armband can work with a variety of different phone apps - there may be another app that beeps. I should probably try and use the beeping feature too, but even with watching I've managed to reduce the time I spend over 100 considerably. I'm convinced it's helping everything.