Serial Trainer

{July 31, 2008}   How Much Exercise is Needed?

This has been a very popular blog search/post subject so I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts. It’s a debatable subject. So I’ll pose two scenarios to you.

Scenario Number One:
Miss Jones has not worked out since HS. and she’s currently 40 years old. She is overweight and needs to lose 60lbs.

There is no way that Miss Jones is going to get through an hour cardio regimen. Miss Jones should start out slowly but monitor herself. She should be able to hold a conversation but be slightly breathless. She should complete as much as she can and each day slowly try to add onto that time until she reaches her one hour goal.

Scenario Number Two:
Mister Jones is a cardio freak. He works out everyday except Sunday, walking on the treadmill 30 mins and then 30 min’s weight training.

This is a trick scenario. Mister Jones wants to tone and define his muscles and maintain his physique. Does that mean that he needs an extra 30 min’s of cardio added into his regimen? Not necessarily. If Mister Jones’ heart rate is maintained during his weight training, then that is considered a one hour cardio with weight training.

See how that works? Maximizing your time means that you can do two things and not spend 3 hours in the gym. We’re not talking about athletes here, we’re talking about your every day Joe. Someone who wants to shed some weight or maintain their physique.

The key, though, is consistency. Maintain a heart rate of about 50-60%. As your fitness level progresses, it may take more to get you to that 50-60%. What you need to know is, what is your resting heart rate?

To find your resting heart rate is easy. Take the time of day that you are most relaxed. Make sure that you’ve had no caffeine or stimulants for the day. For one full minute, find your pulse. That is your resting heart rate.

Now here is the formula for finding your optimal workout heart rate:

220 – your age = Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

Now subtract your RESTING heart rate from your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
Multiply by 50% and that’s your low end
Multiply by 60% and that’s a higher end

THEN add back in that resting heart rate.

220-34=186 (MHR) – 70 (RHR)116
116×50% = 58 + 70(RHR) = 128
116×60%= 69.6 (round to 70) + 70 (RHR) = 140

Now I have two numbers that I can keep my heart rate between depending on how I feel. I should be able to hold that conversation, being slightly breathless. As you move up the fitness level ladder, you can increase that HR to 60-70% or even to an athlete HR of 75-90% (provided that you can maintain the breath test).

As always, speak to you doctor before attempting any sort of workout regimen. If you have health issues, your doctor will give you a recommended heart rate and you should always follow his/her advice.

Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to be on a treadmill to get cardio. Gardening, House Cleaning, Dancing, Wrestling With Kids, Walking The Neighborhood — these are all fantastic ways of getting up and moving. Enjoy the open air. Get some sunlight and be healthy!


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