Manic Monday ~ Measuring Effort

October 10, 2016

I know many people who just can't stand to sweat (aka "exercise"). I also think society has built a certain visual of what exercise looks like. When I was in college there was a poster of a sweaty "FAME" dancer wearing what looks like an 80's exercise leotard in one of my professor's office. During that time my professor was my corporate fitness advisor and I honestly believe she was teaching us to gage the sweat expenditures of clients instead of heart rates. Have you heard of exercise heart rate? Or do you gauge exercise using other methods?  

Let me take today to focus on heart rate. You see, many people exercise in an unnecessary approach. Usually people are exercising too strenuously OR are exercising without enough effort. Neither way will give you the best results. Sure, you get some results, but not the most optimal. Let's start with the strenuous exerciser. If you are exercising at a CONSTANT high exercise heart rate (HR), you are putting more strain on your heart and body than needed. You can still get results, often time better results, if the high HR is reached for short durations of time throughout your exercise session, a term we use to define this is interval training. Then there is the low intensity exerciser. If you are exercising with the ability to feel like you do when you are walking from your parked car to the entrance of a building, then your body will adapt to your activity levels quickly not allowing for change in body weight, strength, endurance and so on. One of the best ways to measure your exercise efforts is through heart rate.

Heart rates vary from person to person. Heart rate numbers are based PER MINUTE. Here is a general way to figure out what your MAXIMUM heart rate is: subtract your age from the number 220. This equals your maximum heart rate. I advise people to only reach their MHR for very short durations of 1-3 minutes. Long durations at a MHR is not necessary. In fact, a moderate exercise session would consist of 45-60 minutes of a HR that is 65-80% of a MHR (220-age). A high intensity session would consist of a HR that is 80-95% of a MHR. This should be done in intervals and last 20-45 minutes with the high intensity interval lasting approximately 1-3 minutes. A low intensity workout would be any activity that is under 65% of the MHR. This would need to be performed for 60-90 minutes for maximum results. 

So, how will you go about taking your HR? In this day and age technology is a great way to monitor heart rates. There are numerous devices such as the FitBit Charge, Polar, Garmin, and the list is ongoing. Some are better readers than others. The idea is to measure your effort. You will be surprised how little or how much your effort levels may be. As you become more fit, your body adapts so your heart rates become lower. Unless you increase your exercise intensity, you will see that your actual HR output will not reach what is once use to. This is a great because your heart is stronger, therefore you will have to increase intensity levels to achieve a new percentage. 

So, enough of measuring effort by the puddles of sweat or the lack thereof.... measure the real deal~ the heart!

Have a GREAT week!

Rachel Zimmerman, Certified Personal Trainer and Life Coach

ACE/NSCA

Wife, Mother, and Friend

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