Q. Glen, How Can I Chart my Exercise Intensity?
A. To get the most out of exercise, you should monitor your intensity throughout your workout. This will insure that you are working within your heart rate training zone, thus getting an effective workout without killing yourself. Working too hard could lead to injury and burnout while not working hard enough can lead to frustration when you don't see results. Below are some simple ways to monitor your exercise intensity.
What is Target Heart Rate?
Most of you have probably heard about target heart rate zone. THR describes the pulse rate (in beats per minute) that allows you to exercise safely while getting the maximum benefits from your workout. This range is usually between 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate target heart rate with any number of formulas:
- Karvonen - heart rate reserve calculated by using age and resting heart rate
- Steven's Creek THR Formula - this online calculator involves different max heart rates according to gender and fitness level, which makes the results a bit more accurate
- Online calculators - if you're math-phobic, like me, use an online calculator to do the work for you
Keep in mind that the results from THR formulas are just guidelines. If you follow your THR zone and realize you're either working way too hard or not hard enough, you'll know to adjust those numbers to fit how you're feeling. It's great to use THR along with the talk test (see below) to find out how you feel at different heart rates.
Take Your Pulse
Place your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, then slide your fingers down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly. Start with zero on the first beat and count for 10 seconds then multiply by six (this is an approximation of your heart rate in beats per minute). Check your pulse frequently throughout your workout to make sure you are within your target heart rate zone.
Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Using a heart rate monitor makes it easy to keep up with your exercise intensity. HRM's range anywhere from $50 to $300, offering a variety of options whether you're a beginner or advanced athlete. Most use a chest strap to get heart rate info and some offer added features such as calories burned and time spent in target heart rate zone.
Take the Talk Test
You should be able to carry on a conversation during your workout. If you are breathless, or can't talk, you're working too hard. Also, keep in mind that dizziness and lightheadedness is not a good sign. If you experience this, you are overexerting yourself and should stop. One easy way to monitor yourself is by using a Perceived Exertion Scale. This is a scale of 1-10 for describing how hard you're working, 1 being extremely easy and 10 being extremely hard. You typically want to bet at at least 5 during your workouts. You can also use the more official Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion which assigns level of intensity from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal exertion).
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !
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Yours in good health