What on Earth Are You Doing?
My last blogpost, Why You Won’t Lose Weight From Exercise Alone, sparked the next series of questions: If you are exercising, are you even doing it correctly? My comment about: “I won’t even get into the ones that pig out all day and then casually stroll around the block every evening after dinner,” got a lot of people to ask: that’s not enough? Yeesh.
No, a casual stroll will do nothing. Especially if you’re talking on your cell phone while doing it. Also, slowly pedaling on a stationary bicycle while leaning back and reading a book: Not Exercise. The proper way to know if you’re getting a real, good workout, is to exercise in your target heart rate. A simple equation is:
220 minus your age. So let’s say you’re 47 years old, your MAXIMUM heart rate should be around 173 beats per minute.
To determine your heart rate while you’re exercising: take a quick break, check your pulse and count the beats per a 60 second time period. (or you can do a 10 second time period, and then multiply it by 6.) This chart will show you how hard you’re working. It will also show you how out of shape you are. If a casual stroll around the block has your heart rate at 180 beats per minute, you are Out of Shape! On the other hand, very conditioned athletes may have lower than average heart rates because their hearts have learned how to adapt and work more efficiently. Therefore, everyone is different and you need to know what YOUR max heart rate is, and what range you need to exercise in.
Image Courtesy of http://www.cybexintl.com/
Range of Heart Rate determines where you should be at certain times. You should not be at your max heart rate all the time, actually it’s impossible to be there for more than a few minutes. But you should test your heart rate to see where you normally are. If you’re always at the 50% range, you may not be working hard enough. If you’re always at the 85% range: is that too high? Or are you out of shape and any exercise you do, drives your heart rate up? You should vary your workouts though, so that some are high intensity and some are low. Mix it up.
Another way to determine if you’re exercising hard enough, is to gauge your breathing. You should be ABLE to talk, but feel that you don’t really want to.
If you’re weightlifting, and don’t rest between sets (and text your friends) you can get your heart rate up pretty high, as well. (Yes, you can get a cardio workout from lifting weights. Test your heart rate and see). But, if you want to know if you’re lifting heavy enough to build muscle, then once you’ve lifted weights long enough to be comfortable with your routine, you can test this out: You should NOT be able to lift the weight or push the weight, for more than 10 reps. If you are lifting a pretty pink weight 18 times, it’s too light. Trust me.
Here is another graph displaying where you should be according to your level of fitness. You want to start slow, but then make sure you make improvements!
Image Courtesy of ACEFitness.com
How Much Do You Need to Exercise?
It depends what your goals are. If you’re trying to lose weight, then 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is recommended for slow, healthy weight loss. 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. So divide that by 7 (days in a week) and you would need to get rid of 500 calories a day to lose 1 lb a week. So, you can burn (exercise) off 500 calories a day, eat 500 calories less a day, OR a combination of both (eat 250 calories less and burn off 250 calories a day).
Want to lose it faster? Then eat a lot less and exercise a lot more.
If you find you’re losing weight in the beginning, but then it slows down, look at your exercise routine. If you’ve been doing the SAME routine for weeks, then you’re burning less calories now because it becomes easier and you exert less energy. Also, when your body is more conditioned, it gets used to your exercise routine, so you need to do MORE to continue to lose weight.
Or, again, you can eat less. If you’re already eating very little, (1,000 calories a day) then you cannot eat any less, so you will need to exercise more.
As for how long and how many times per week should you exercise? Read this for more detailed information on that: http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/exercise-frequency/
How many of you frequently check your heart rate? Do you push yourself at each workout? Do you mix it up to get your heart rate up to different levels?
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