Levine's POTS Exercise Program: Week 5 (& I have GRAPHS!)

Now, don't you worry! This post doesn't include any swearwords or minor break downs (like my last one). In fact, things have been plugging along and yielding some interesting observations. I even have GRAPHS, people! Things are getting real up in here!

So, I can't believe it's the end of my 5th week doing Levine's Program already. This week was probably the most fatigued I've been so far, so I wonder if that means we're really starting push against the "ceiling" my PT told me about (I wrote about it here). Which would be exciting, as that would hopefully mean possible improvements as far as symptoms/fatigue/etc. goes. But we'll just have to wait and see.

However, there have been a few other potentially hopeful things I've noticed this week:

  • It feels like I have to work a little bit harder to keep my heart-rate up. It is still high, especially compared to typical people who would be doing the same exercise. But comparing Week I to now, it feels like it is requiring a bit more exertion to get it in the zones I aim for when I exercise. So, that's exciting! Especially since, you know, I scratch my nose and my heart-rate shoots up into the freaking stratosphere. 
  • The past couple times I have been at the center, my heart-rate has returned to what it was before I started exercising. So, when I first come in, they take my baseline HR, blood pressure, and pain levels. As I workout, they take them again at certain intervals, and again when I have finished exercising and have rested for 5 minutes. A typical or "healthy" heart will drop down to a resting heart-rate fairly rapidly once exercising has ceased.  (Athletes can determine often determine their fitness levels by watching how quickly their heart "recovers" after a workout... the body can be pretty  neat sometimes.)  Anyway, an article from Scientific American explains it better: "After exercising, a person's heart needs time to recover, or to return to its normal, resting heart rate. How long it takes for the heart to resume its resting rate is referred to as heart-rate recovery time. In general, people who exercise regularly, and therefore are more likely to have healthier hearts, have faster heart-rate recovery times than people who do not regularly exercise. So after a 100-meter dash an Olympic sprinter would return to a resting heart rate faster than someone who rarely ever runs."(1)
  • Lastly, did I mention I have graphs? Because I have GRAPHS!  So, while they use a pulse ox, I use my own heart-rate monitor for each rehab session just for my own purposes (and to check my HR throughout the exercise to make sure I'm staying in the right zone). Below, I've posted two graphs that were taken, very nearly, one month apart. Take a look at the appearance of each. 
  February 3rd, 2017 -  (The huge dip 3/4s of the way through is my phone's momentarily losing connection to my heart-rate monitor. That or I saw a cookie and briefly exited my body in order to go get it.)

February 3rd, 2017 - (The huge dip 3/4s of the way through is my phone's momentarily losing connection to my heart-rate monitor. That or I saw a cookie and briefly exited my body in order to go get it.)

  March 1st, 2017

March 1st, 2017

In each graph, my max heart-rate was about the same, but the consistency of my heart-rate is what caught my eye. In February, there were highs and dips all over the place, especially when I was getting into my Base Pace (the yellow). However, the more recent one from March, my heart-rate stayed pretty consistent regardless of whether I was doing my Recovery Pace or my Base Pace.

So, while it's hard to determine if I'm feeling much different physically/symptom wise, it's nice that things are potentially improving on a "mechanical" level. 

Back to the center this Wednesday. Since my symptoms have been pretty consistent and minimal, they might try me walking for a little bit just to see how my body and heart react. Though the recumbent bike is helpful, and especially nice on the more POTSie days, I'm excited to see if I can start adding in other exercises to help break things up a bit. 

 

 

  1. "Cardiovascular System Science: Investigate Heart-Rate Recovery Time." Scientific American, Bring Science Home. 13 Feb 2014. Web. 5 March 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cardiovascular-system-science-investigate-heart-rate-recovery-time1/