Self-paced heart rate control for treadmill exercise

Wang, Hanjie; Hunt, Kenneth James (2023). Self-paced heart rate control for treadmill exercise Frontiers in Control Engineering, 4(115816) Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fcteg.2023.1158164

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Introduction: With conventional heart rate (HR) control systems, the exercising person is bound to walk or run at a pace determined by the feedback. This may be challenging for people with impairments that make it difficult for them to achieve a smooth, continuous pace. The aim of this work was to assess the technical feasibility of a novel self-paced heart rate control strategy and to compare its accuracy with conventional heart rate control. Methods: We propose a self-paced heart rate control system that embeds an automatic positioning controller within the heart rate control loop. The treadmill speed command is decoupled from the heart rate compensator, whereas speed is determined by the exerciser’s own volition: target speed is displayed visually to the person and, when they try to follow this target, the position controller sets the treadmill speed while keeping the person at a safe reference position on the track. A further novel contribution of this work is a new input-sensitivity-shaping, frequency-domain design strategy for feedback control of position. Results: Experimental evaluation with four participants showed that self-paced heart rate control is technically feasible: all participants were able to accurately follow the target running speed calculated by the HR compensator and presented to them visually; for all four participants, self-paced HR tracking accuracy was not substantially different from conventional HR control performance; on average, the self-paced heart rate controller gave slightly better performance than conventional HR control, with RMS tracking error of 2.98 beats per minute (bpm) vs 3.11 bpm and higher average control signal power. Conclusion: The proposed self-paced heart rate control strategy with embedded automatic position control is deemed feasible. This approach may be helpful for people with gait impairments or other limitations that make it difficult for them to follow an imposed treadmill speed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Engineering and Computer Science > Institute for Human Centered Engineering (HUCE)
School of Engineering and Computer Science
BFH Centres and strategic thematic fields > BFH centre for Health technologies


Wang, Hanjie and
Hunt, Kenneth James


T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)




Frontiers Research Foundation


[7] Swiss National Science Foundation




Kenneth James Hunt

Date Deposited:

10 Mar 2023 12:05

Last Modified:

10 Mar 2023 12:05

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

heart rate dynamics, heart rate control, treadmill, real-time feedback, self-paced




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