Jan 7, 2012

Dr. Levine's Exercise Protocol for POTS: The Beginning

Considering it's a new year, what better time to embark on my 3-month exercise journey? Truth be told, I would have loved to have started this protocol about 6 months ago but it was difficult to get a hold of Levine's associates in Texas about the study and by the time I finally got the info from them I was sick again. Now that my awful sinus/ear infection and stomach issues are better, I have started Levine's protocol. So far, so good although I will say 50 consecutive minutes on a recumbent bike with a high heart rate is anything but easy.

Last night I rode just over 18 miles at an average speed of 21 miles per hour, averaged a heart rate of 136 with a peak heart rate of 149, and burnt a total of (only!) 323 calories according to my bike. It seems to me after 18 miles I probably burnt way more calories than that! I have the bike set up in the living room although I find it tough to focus on television while I'm riding. In fact, during intense exercise like that I find it's actually much easier to just shut my eyes as they tend to get really dry when I exercise. Anyone else experience that/know what causes it?

So I strapped on my heart rate monitor and ipod, closed my eyes and went to work. In 50 minutes I managed to listen to a new favorite of mine, Anna Nalick's 'Broken Doll & Odds & Ends.' I am going to use music to motivate me and listen to a different artist each exercise session as 50 minutes is usually long enough to listen to a complete album in its entirety.

Today I am supposed to be doing weight training according to the schedule that Levine's folks created for me. I suppose I should do that soon although I am still tired from yesterday and my knees are a bit sore. I cannot reveal any specifics of the program, but I believe each workout plan is tailored to your individual heart rate so my regime may look different from the next person's anyway.

If you have any interest in trying the program, I would recommend contact Dr. Levine's associates as soon as possible as it may take months before you are accepted into the study to begin. If you test positive for POTS according to a simple 10-minute stand test (much easier than a tilt-table test!) performed and recorded by your doctor in the office, you will most likely be accepted into the study and receive your own customized workout regime and schedule based on your resting and standing heart rates.

I still have a few questions I need to run by Levine's people. For instance, does it matter if I wear compression stockings while exercising? What if I can't get my heart rate up high enough into the zones that I'm supposed to be working in? So far it has been a real challenge for me to even get my heart rate up into the 140's while exercising (I can achieve that hr standing still, no problem, but riding the bike is much harder).

I am going to go do my exercises now before it gets any closer to bedtime. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for music! I will listen to just about anything and enjoy listening to stuff I've never heard before. Going to try to make this exercise journey as painless, fun and interesting as possible. The possibility of feeling better is motivation enough I just think music will help the time go much faster.

For your listening enjoyment, here is one of my favorite Anna Nalick songs, 'Shine.' One of my favorite lyrics is, 'Isn't it time you got over how fragile you are?' It definitely resonated with me for obvious reasons. I'm fragile, but it's up to me to make myself stronger.

I am also interested to hear if anyone has tried Levine's protocol or a different exercise regime and hear about your results, how you felt, what to expect, etc. Wish me luck! I intend to post regular updates about my exercise experiences and progress.


  1. Ooh, I had forgotten about the amazingness that is Anna Nalick! If you're okay with not super upbeat songs, which it seems like you are, I would highly recommend Jose Gonzales. I've been a little obsessed with him as of late. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see this or not, but I have a playlist of some good stuff by him here: http://grooveshark.com/#/playlist/YO+Jose+You+My+MAN/65492666 Yeah yeah yeahs, Iron and Wine, Jack's Mannequin and the Civil Wars are also pretty great. I'm also a big fan of Brand New but they do bring out the little emo kid in me so maybe that should be avoided, haha. Oh, and there's Bon Iver and Greg Laswell! I have this playlist with some of all of that. http://grooveshark.com/#/playlist/This+Is+Now+/41743630 And this, though I made boht about a year ago so they're a little outdated, but worth a shot - http://grooveshark.com/#/playlist/Choice+Pick+Of+Songs+I+Already+Had+On+Here/42949338

    It's so amazing that you are doing this - keep up the awesome work!

  2. Your playlists are seriously amazing! Have already listened to the first two during my weight workouts. I love Jack's Mannaquin and Brand New haha. I have to admit I am most excited to listen to the 'outdated' playlist. Usually dated stuff's the best! :) BTW, it's your birthday now! The big 21! Happy Birthday Soul Sister!!! (Don't worry I am going to tweet/FB you too in case you don't see this in time!)

  3. I would like to get in touch with Dr. Levine. How do I reach him?

    1. Hi Miki! I have never been in contact with Dr. Levine directly but his associate Tiffany VanGundy at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine.

      Send an email to THR-IEEM-POTSRegistry@texashealth.org and let them know if you're interested in participating. They should be able to answer most questions via email and maybe a phone call or two. They will tell you how to get started with your doctor.

      Good luck! Let me know if you end up participating! :)