Equipo Fitness

How to Find Your Exercise Target Zone

 You may have heard that a super quick and fairly accurate method of finding your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your own age. This is simply too inaccurate.

This is an old school technique that has no background of science at all. What has kept this formula from being discarded is the fact that it is simple. The problem with this technique is that it assumes that you will loose around one heart beat per year, not at all true of many people. Top end heart beat rates do vary a lot from person to person, no matter what their fitness or age is.

If you really want to find out what your maximum heart rate is you are going to have to perform controlled tests in a laboratory environment. These tests, performed by trained experts in this field, involve you using a cardiovascular training machine, e.g. running machine or exercise bike. The intensity of your workout is increased every 15 seconds, in the space of a few minutes you will have reached your top heart rate.

More practical is to use a ‘submax test’. Here you exercise at a sub maximum level, with the aid of specific formulas you can then predict your maximum heart rate. Although not quite as accurate as laboratory analysis, predictions usually fall within five beats of lab results. What is best is to perform 2-3 different submax tests, finding the result from the average of all of them.

An example of a submax test would be using a step machine you perform step ups and downs of 8-10 inches for 3 minutes without any breaks. At the end take your average heart rate, using a heart rate monitor. Subsequently add to this average value the correct estimate factor, decided by your fitness level, using the following formulas. What is essential for accuracy of the final result is that the movements and effort used in the exercise is as equal with each repetition as possible.


Average heart rate in the last minute + Estimate factor = Estimate max heart rate

Estimate factor:

Poor shape = 55
Average shape = 65
Excellent shape = 75
Competitor = 80

The American College of Sports Medicine states that people should exercise within their ‘target zone’, i.e. between 55-90% of their maximum heart rate. At this level you should be burning excess calories without causing injury problems through overexertion. The higher you manage to exercise at the more calories you will burn, remaining at this level for any period of time is very difficult.

One of the best ways to increase your ability to do exercise at the highest end of your hear rate is to do interval training. This is where you mix the activities or severity of your workout to keep changing from low to middle, to high heart rate levels, raising the level gradually.

Setting Fitness Goals

Many people make the mistake of setting their fitness goals too high when they embark on an exercise program. This leads them to abandon their plans out of frustration and impatience. Setting manageable goals is key to maintaining a fitness program over time.

If you have been completely sedentary you need to start out your fitness regimen by working towards small and realistic goals. These can be as simple as walking around the block once a day for a week, and adding another block each subsequent week until they reach the 30 minutes recommended by health professionals. A few sessions with a personal trainer can help you set reasonable goals for weight-bearing exercise like weight training. In the beginning focus on overall conditioning rather than building muscle. Check with staff at your gym or fitness center for recommendations about what exercise classes are right for your current fitness level.

When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to make rash promises like exercising every day. It’s hard for even people in top condition to make time each and every day for training. Start off three or four days a week and build up from there. If you’re taking up a new sport like swimming, skiing or golf, consider taking lessons with a professional so that you develop good habits from the beginning.

If you’ve been getting moderate exercise your goals can be a little more ambitious. If you’re walking the recommended 30 minutes per day, why not add hand weights to your routine? This might also be the time to consider adding more weight to your lifting or taking an intermediate fitness course. You may also be ready to speak to a personal trainer about beginning to work on building specific muscle groups.

Once you’ve attained a high level of fitness, then it’s time for some serious goal setting. Plan to run a marathon or participate in a 5K walking event. There are many of these events run to benefit charity, giving a double benefit of both funds raised and health benefits to participants. When preparing for an event of this nature, return to your early habit of setting small, realistic goals. Add miles to your run on a weekly basis until you are able to complete the full distance. Speak with your trainer to establish a regular schedule of weight-bearing exercise that will help improve your stamina and flexibility.

Walk Every Day

When it comes to exercise we each determine what we can or cannot do, and how hard we push ourselves. Some follow the all-or-nothing principle, believing that if exercise is good for you it has to be hard, even painful. Experts have recommended high-impact aerobic exercise as a means for increasing bone mass, but a review of numerous studies on aerobic exercise and bone mineral density suggests that walking just 30 minutes per day a few days a week is enough to moderately increase overall bone density. Specifically, an eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised.

As a fitness activity, walking has become more popular over the years as it offers many health benefits:

– Consistent walking can help reduce body fat, cholesterol levels, increase cardiovascular endurance, resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.

– Regular walking, using a moderate intensity, strengthens the immune system, burns calories and keeps weight stable.

– Walking is a natural form of movement and, unlike high impact exercise, does not place excess stress on the joints and boosts bone strength.

– Studies suggest regular walking can help prevent colon cancer.

– Walking is an excellent way to prevent diabetes and heart disease, when combined with a proper diet.

A walking program is simple to start. All one needs are comfortable clothes and shoes; layer loose clothing and shoes specifically designed for walking are the best. One should also keep in mind that every workout should begin with a brief warm-up and a few simple stretches. Walking around the house or in place for a few minutes to get the blood flowing to the muscles before attempting to stretch them is a good strategy. Although walking primarily works the major muscles of the legs, people should not forget to stretch their back, shoulders and arms. This will help them loosen up any tension they may be carrying and make their walk more enjoyable as well as more effective. In addition, beginning walkers can make their workouts less strenuous by limiting how fast and far they walk and focus on good posture, keeping the head lifted and the shoulders relaxed, and move arms naturally.

The popularity of walking as a fitness activity is growing by leaps and bounds. Low risk and easy to start, walking has proved its health benefits in numerous studies. In fact, walking exercise helps strengthen bones because it forces them to bear weight, which is why high-impact exercise elicits even greater gains in bone density. Concluding, walking, the oldest form of exercise, just may be the key to achieving new levels of fitness, particularly for those who need to start with small, achievable goals to get, and stay, on track.

What You Need to Know When Starting a Running Routine

Strong legs, strong lungs, strong will. Such is the portrait of a typical distance runner. The good news is that you can be a runner, too.

Why run?

Running carries with it the same benefits of all cardiovascular exercise: it helps reduce stress, strengthens the heart and lungs, reduces risk of certain diseases, increases confidence, brightens your mood, helps you sleep better, gives you more energy, and, in general, provides a better sense of well being. It is also a great way to burn calories.

How many calories do you burn running a mile?

Conventional wisdom says that, for every mile you run, you will burn 100 calories. But other factors play into the equation as well, including your running speed and your body weight. Generally speaking, a 135 pound person will burn about 100 calories per mile. A 200 pound person, running at the same speed, may burn 150. Obviously, the faster you run, the more calories you will burn.

Starting to run

Running can be stressful on your body, particularly on your leg muscles and knees. But you can minimize your risk of injury with a few simple tips.

Make sure to stretch before and after every run. Walk briskly for at least 5 minutes at the beginning of each run. Once you feel your body starting to warm up, do some gentle stretching exercises. Focus on steady, continuous stretches and avoid bouncing through the stretch.

If you are new to running, here is how you can work up to a 30 minute running routine while reducing the risk of injury.

Your first goal will be to make sure that you can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. If you can do that, start to run at a slow pace until you become short of breath. Then walk briskly until you feel like you can run again. Continue with these intervals. You can challenge yourself by timing these intervals and working toward longer intervals. For example, maybe the first day you will run for 30 seconds and walk for 2 minutes. As your endurance increases, run longer and walk for shorter distances.

Another interval technique involves counting your footsteps, instead of measuring time. When you are first starting your running routine, you may do 100 or 200 running footsteps with 300 or 400 walking footsteps in between. Then you can work up to 400 or 500 running footsteps with 200 walking footsteps in between. Each day, try to extend the number of running footsteps and reduce the number of walking footsteps (even by just a few footsteps) until you are running for a full 30 minutes. Counting steps can help give your mind a clear focus toward an achievable goal.

It is important to not push yourself too hard. Even if you simply walk for 30 minutes and can manage to get in a couple of one or two minute runs, you are getting your heart rate up, and you will be reaping some of those health benefits. The rule of thumb is this: run at a pace at which you can still talk. If you are very short of breath, slow down or take a walk break.

Once you are running for a full 30 minutes, keep up this interval training to maximize the benefits of your running routine. For example, run at your normal pace and then speed it up for 30 seconds or one minute (or 200 or 300 footsteps).

After every run, walk for a few minutes, and stretch your muscles again.

Making the most of your running routine

Here are a few more tips to help you make the most of your running routine:

Invest in a good pair of running shoes, which will increase comfort and reduce your risk of injury.

Plan to rehydrate about every 10 minutes during your run.

The best places to run are smooth dirt roads or paths, which are not as hard as asphalt and concrete. Ask around (at your local running store, for example) for recommendations of good routes.

Finally, make sure to follow these simple safety precautions: Running with a friend (or even a dog) is safer than running alone. At the very least, tell someone when you are leaving, where you are going, and when they should expect you to return. Leave your valuables at home, vary your routes, and stay in busy, well lit areas. Pay attention to what is going on around you. That means leaving the headphones at home, or turning the volume down low. Lastly, always jog against traffic, so you can assess oncoming cars for potential danger.

A running routine is a rewarding way to build strength and endurance. Enjoy the process of developing your own strong legs, strong lungs, and strong will.

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