1. A modified heart rate (HR) method for predicting total energy expenditure (TEE) was cross-validated against whole-body calorimetry (CAL). Minute-by-minute HR was converted to energy expenditure (EE) using individual calibration curves when HR exceeded a pre-determined ‘FLEX’ value designed to discriminate periods of activity. (‘FLEX’ HR was defined as the mean of the highest HR during rest and the lowest HR during the lightest imposed exercise.) Sedentary EE (below FLEX) was calculated as the mean EE during lying down, sitting and standing at rest. Sleeping EE was calculated as basal metabolic rate (BMR) predicted from standard equations.
2. Calibration curves of oxygen consumption v. HR for different postures at rest and during exercise were obtained for twenty healthy subjects (eleven male, nine female); mean r 0.941 (SD 0.04). The mean FLEX HR for men and women were 86 (sd 10) and 96 (SD 6) beats/min respectively.
3. Simultaneous measurements of HR and EE were made during 21 h continuous CAL, which included 4 x 30 min imposed exercise (cycling, rowing, stepping, jogging). HR exceeded FLEX for a mean of 98 (SD 41) min. Mean TEE by CAL (TEE. CAL) was 8063 (sd 1445) kJ.
4. The HR method yielded a mean non-significant underestimate in TEE (TEE. HR) of 1.2 (sd 6.2)% (range−11.4 to + 10.6 %). Regression of TEE. HR (y) v. TEE. CAL (X) yielded Y = 0.868 X +927 kJ, r 0.943, se of the estimate 458 kJ, n 20.
5. The satisfactory predictive power and low cost of the method makes it suitable for many field and epidemiological applications.