Visible Plus: Pacing

Pacing is the feature of Visible Plus I was most excited about.

I had read that an effective recovery method is to establish a baseline and then very slowly, like 10% every few days (assuming no symptoms) increase activity. I thought pacing in Visible Plus could help me with that.

This is part of a longer review of the Visible Plus app.

How Pacing Works

Visible Plus has three heart rate zones:

  • Rest - up to 5% above Resting Heart Rate (73 bpm for me)
  • Exertion - up to 60% of Max Heart Rate (102 bpm for me)
  • Over Exertion - over 60% of Max Heart Rate

These zones appear to be based on research related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The accurate way to determine a Over Exertion threshold is a two day CPET test, which most people don’t have access to. The 60% of Max Heart Rate is an estimate of that threshold which is not very accurate.

Visible Plus computes Points based on the time spent in each of the three heart rate zones. They don’t tell the formula, but I gathered that Rest is zero points, Exertion is some fraction of a point per minute, and Over Exertion is a larger fraction of a point per minute. For me, taking a shower, shaving, and brushing my teeth combined is about 1 point.

In the app you set a points budget for the day and the app will tell you if you are ahead or behind on your points for the day.

I’m Always Over Budget

My morning routine, which I consider healthy, is to get up and go on a walk. With long COVID, the walk is one of my biggest energy expenditures for the day. As a result, the app would always say I was spending Points too quickly and that I’ll exceed my budget.

Also, Visible has no way to enter a bedtime and it doesn’t try to guess my bedtime, so it allocates the points until late in the evening, possibly midnight. So at the end of the day, the app would always say I was ahead of budget.

As somebody who always made good grades and carefully manages the family budget, this idea that I’m always over budget was not healthy for me psychologically.

One BPM Matters

Sometimes I would notice that my points were higher than expected and I realized that my heart rate was at say 73 bpm (Exertion) instead of 72 bpm (Rest). This combined with the per-second heart rate readings led me to think about my heart rate way too much, which was not good for my overall health.

Mental, Emotional, or Social Exertion

In my daily energy budget, I also have to consider mental, emotional, and social exertion. None of those count toward the Points. They might raise my heart rate slightly, so they would count in that way, but the effect was that they were not part of the Points budget at all. That made this whole pacing scheme much less useful.


The way Visible implements pacing, I felt encouraged to Rest a lot. That helped me get out of crash cycles twice. However, once I got out of the crash cycle, I found it didn’t help me explore my energy envelope. Instead it just made me think about long COVID all the time, which was not good for my physical or mental health.