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The reasoning behind my concentration on calories burned.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Having an "A" type personality I have a tendency to push myself too hard. This doesn't help with my MS as if I push too hard I end up with a flare of my MS symptoms. This can last for just a few hours to days. As such I have to force myself to listen to my body while exercising to avoid this happening. If I did that I would end up sick in bed for several days or longer. I did that once last summer and ended up having to have a three day course of IV steroids in order to calm my MS down. After a course of IV steroids I am wiped out with extreme fatigue for a couple more weeks afterwards. while my body gets rid of the steroids. So I can't really use the push yourself harder or longer as a reward or trophy for my exercise.

The next option for giving me a reward or trophy would to be able to get my heart rate up higher. But alas this will not happen. So far the highest I have gotten my heart rate while exercising is 82. This seems to be the limit of my heart rate due to one of my blood pressure medicines. Even to get it to that rate forced me to overdo with my exercise bring on my MS symptoms for almost a full day. Most of the time when I am exercising I can barely get the rate up to around 78. I actually did get my heart rate up to around 98 once, but this was only because I didn't take my blood pressure medicine. This really isn't a very good idea for me to do as my blood pressure can get way out of control very easily. I have seen my blood pressure spike at 198/96 when I have forgotten to take my medication. Even when I am taking my medication my blood pressure is really not that low (tend to be just inside the pre-hypertension range). This part drive my doctor crazy because she can't increase my dosage without lowering my resting heart rate too low. Right now my resting heart rate is down to 56-58 with my blood pressure medicine.

So that leave me with calories burned as a measurement of how I did with my exercises each time. I know that my Polar heart rate monitor is accurate in what it tells me my heart rate is. It measures the heart rate in the same manor as an EKG does ( the electrical signals to the heart). I have also checked the rate it is telling me to the rate from my blood pressure monitor and they were the same value.

So all that is left is the question of how accurate are the calories burned. I do know there is a formula for calculating the calories burned according to heart rate which is what the Polar company uses. But I don't know if that formula is correct when a persons heart rate is being artificially lowered by a medication. I think when this site calculates the calories burned for a cycling exercise it is assuming a persons heart rate would be a lot higher than mine to come up with what they tell me I burned. When I plan an exercise on the polar site it will calculate that I will burn the same amount as this site says I burned as it is expecting me to have a lot higher heart rate. Of course since my heart rate is a lot lower than what they expected they calculate the calories burned a lot lower after I have actually done the exercise.

Since when I do an exercise this site comes up with a distance about the same length as what my exercise bike says I did does that mean that I did burn the amount of calories it says I burned? Or are the amount of calories I burned less than this since my heart rate didn't get very high? It seems to me that if time and speed comes up with the correct distance then the calories burned should be the same. Maybe this is why my legs tire so quickly while exercising. Maybe not enough blood getting to them given the amount of work I am having them do because of my low heart rate. I think it only takes maybe 2 or 3 seconds of exercise before my legs start to burn.

So the end result of this is that I'm trying to set a realistic goal of X number of calories I burn during each exercise session. Meeting that goal will be my reward / trophy for the day. With this in mind I guess it doesn't really matter which numbers I use other than I'd probably get more variance using the higher numbers of this site. And I guess it is more of an annoying curiosity as to which numbers are the correct ones in my case or if the truth lies somewhere in between.

Added 5/5/14 in responce to SELENITYLUNARE comment:

You are right about the oxygen to an extent. But the reason I suspect that my legs do not get enought oxygen during exercise is that in addition to my MS I also have moderate damage to my lungs in the form of COPD. This is from 45+ years of smoking and exposure to toxic chemicals. When just sitting still my oxygen level is around 97% but drops to 93% when walking slowly which is just above the level that would require me to have oxygen suppliment therapy. As such I would suspect that the oxygen level would drop even further while I am exercising due to the limits of my lungs being able to get enough oxygen into my body.

You were also right about my MS keeping me from doing the VO Max test. The last two stress tests I have had done were both drug induced due to this limit on my body by the MS. But even if I could stand (literally I mean ) for the test I very much doubt the VA (which is where I get my health care from) would even do the testing.

My heart rate minitor does calculate a VO Max for me based on my age, weight, resting heart rate and the variblity of my heart rate. It placed this at 29 after the testing was done. Probably ended up that high due to my very low resting heart rate for the most part since people in good health usualy have lower heart rates.

One of the features of my heart rate monitor is what they call Sport Zones. these are ranges of heart rate based on your maximum heart rate and VO max. By adjusting my VO max down to a level of 13 these zone give me 2 heart rates zones that I can actually hit while exercising. As such I suspect that is more in line with what my actual VO max would be due to my health problems.

While my heart rate monitor probably isn't giving me anywhere near the correct calories I burn it does supply many other data items which are helpful to me to determine how I am doing with my exercising.
So with all this said based on what you said the truth in what my calories burned is probably close to but slightly below what this site comes up with for calories burned.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I had asked the Sparks support team how they calculated their calories burned before and their answer was as follows if this helps you at all:

    the Spark takes the length of the workout and
    multiplies it by the pre-categorized amount of "steps per minute" for the
    activity type selected. The steps per minute value is derived from the
    Surgeon General's published figures for Steps per Minute of various
    activities. With that, it is possible that the calories burned amount may
    change for that as well based on that data.

    1356 days ago
    Sorry that in your previous blog I suggested something to you that either was not useful to you, or that you didn't want to hear.

    I know this is difficult, as I go through many of these same issues, and can land in my recliner for days due to the exhaustion if I push myself too hard - and it really doesn't take all that much. But, all we can do is all we can do. There comes a time of changing the mindset so that we don't just frustrate the blazes out of ourselves, as well as coming to a place of acceptance about "what is". I wish you the best in figuring out what works for you, and I realise that may be a long journey.
    1356 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2014 12:59:38 PM
    This can be tricky. The reason that the heart rate can tell us how many calories are burned is because the heart rate must increase to provide the muscles with enough Oxygen to withstand the exercise.

    Now here's the tricky part - the beta blockers decrease your heart rate. Why? They decrease your heart rate because they dilate the blood vessels - which means more blood is flowing through your vessels but is not being 'pushed and shoved' like before, therefore lowering your blood pressure.

    So technically, it should not affect your calories burned due to the simple fact that, even though your heart rate is not high, the correct amount of Oxygen is being delivered to your muscles due to the increased blood flow.

    You will simply not be able to tell using a HR monitor, though. It is, quite honestly, useless at the moment.

    One possible answer is to ask your doctor to do a VO2 Max study. That is the maximum Oxygen comsumption. What will happen during this study is you will be running/walking on a treadmill while you breath all of your air into a mask. The machine will calculate your Oxygen Consumption from the amount of Carbon Dioxide that your body is producing.

    What you would want to do from there is to do a little research into the Oxygen Consumption at certain heart rate levels compared to your Oxygen Consumption. That way you could create a sliding chart to compare your heart rate and what the 'normal' is.

    You have MS, though. So you may not be able to perform the test. I have heard of some solutions that can be given to patients to artificially increase your oxygen consumption to trick your body into thinking you are exercising while you really are not. That might be an option for you if your doctor can manage it.

    Hope I helped. Your doctor should be able to help you more. emoticon
    1357 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2014 2:11:11 AM
  • ZRIE014
    keep it up
    1357 days ago
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