2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

fitness

Target Heart Rate and Range: optimize your workout

Exercising within your target heart rate range will not only ensure an effective workout in terms of a fat and glucose burn, but also will provide an important aspect of exercise safety.

Key Phrases:

Resting heart rate: the heart rate at which you are at resting metabolic function. As in your heart rate upon waking luxuriously on a Saturday morning, and before moving much.

Pre-exercise heart rate: the heart rate immediately prior to initiating an exercise session. This heart rate will be faster than the resting heart rate.

Target heart rate range: the heart rate range between which you will gain a safe and effective exercise workout.

To calculate your individualized target heart rate range, you will need to find your pulse to determine your pre-exercise heart rate. Start with your index and middle fingers and place them gently on either your radial or carotid artery; either the artery that lies 3 inches below your thumb (radial), or on the neck, 1 ½ inches from your Adam’s apple (carotid). Find and feel your heartbeat, look at a second hand watch, then count how many heartbeats you feel in 15 seconds; multiply that number times 4, to know your one-minute heart rate. Example: 17 heartbeats felt in 15 seconds equates to a heart rate of 68.

My preference to calculate target heart rate range is to use the Karvonen Formula. As opposed to the standard 220 – your age formula, the Karvonen takes into account your pre-exercise heart rate, affording you the opportunity to dial in a specific and individualized target heart rate range for your exercise session.  The formula is as follows:

220 – age – pre-exercise heart rate x 65%, x 85% + pre-exercise heart rate

For a 50-year-old woman with a pre-exercise heart rate of 68, it looks like this:

220 – 50 = 170 (max heart rate)

– 68 = 102

x 65% = 66;              x 85% = 87

+ 68 = 134;               + 68 = 155

target heart rate range = 134 – 155

Several external factors may affect heart rate: hydration status, level of fitness, adrenaline (stress) response, certain medications, and caffeine to name a few. Someone who is new to exercise and therefore may be “deconditioned” (less than optimal fitness level), will likely note that their resting, pre-exercise, and exercise heart rate is higher than what is age predicted.

When writing an exercise prescription for this 50-year-old woman beginning an exercise program, we would start at the 65% level of exercise intensity, so that her exercise heart rate stays around 134 beats per minute. As she works up to 5 – 6 exercise sessions per week over the course of 6 – 8 weeks, her exercise prescription will be modified, allowing her to increase her exercise intensity to work at higher heart rate response, at 155 beats per minute.

As the heart muscle becomes more conditioned, each contraction becomes more efficient, so that ultimately fewer heartbeats per minute are required to pump the same volume of blood. In the real world this translates as a lowered resting and pre-exercise heart rate, as well as a lowered exercise heart rate response, ultimately allowing the exercising person to increase their workout to achieve a higher heart rate response.  Conditioning takes several months to achieve.

Another valuable aspect of determining the effectiveness and safety of your exercise program is to assess your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).  This is a subjective response, and it basically allows you to assign a numerical value to your exercise intensity. I use a modified scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being the amount of energy required to sit up in a chair, and 10 being a marathon effort. An RPE of 3 is moderate, 4 is somewhat hard, and 5 is hard. 3 – 5 is the range of perceived exertion that I include in an exercise prescription.  (6 is very hard, 7 is very, very hard, and so on). An RPE of 6 and above is correlated with an anaerobic level of exercise; anaerobic means “without oxygen”—oxygen feeds the muscles and aids in fat burning, thus the presence of oxygen is favorable while exercising (and most other times as well!).

As a side note, athletes who are conditioned to train for competition are often at their anaerobic threshold; for most of us who exercise to stay in shape and optimize our health, maintaining an aerobic exercise program is suggested.

Future articles will address additional exercise considerations: frequency, type, duration, and how to mix it all up.

Have at it!


Get Moving! Build Muscle, Burn More Fat

Let’s face it: we all have fat burning on our mind when we exercise. That reason alone is what motivates many people to engage in routine physical activity.  Were you aware however, that by increasing your lean muscle, you can burn more fat all the while—even when you are folding laundry, carrying in groceries, or taking the stairs to your office? Not to mention the fat burning boost you will get when you are purposefully exercising.  The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn!

Resistance training is beneficial for several reasons: increased skeletal muscle strength, improved balance, and increased lean muscle mass to name a few. Resistance or strength training need not be accomplished in a gym, but can be easily and safely done at home.

Push-ups are my favorite strength and muscle building exercise. If your upper body is not quite ready for an on-the-floor push up, you can start with a wall push up. Place your hands on the wall at your shoulder level, shoulder width apart, fingers pointing upward, while maintaining a soft elbow. Step away from the wall, at least 18 inches; the farther back you stand, the lower your hands will move below the shoulder height, and the more muscle workout you will enjoy. Keep you feet about 12 inches apart and maintain a soft knee. Engage the abdominal muscles by drawing in the belly, below the umbilicus. This action will support the lower back with the additional benefit of including the abdominals in the exercise. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Heart Matters

Something terrific happened this morning while Grace and I were enjoying our morning walk on the ditch.

Two women approached us, coming from the opposite direction. I had seen them several times in the past, typically in the afternoons, but that was before summer arrived. They walk at a fast pace, as intent on the exercise as they are in the animated conversations they share. One of the women looked as though exercise was a relatively new habit, while the other appeared fit and as though she is the “cheerleader”.

I had not seen them for a couple of months, I realized. I noticed immediately that the woman who just months prior was seemingly new to exercise had clearly lost weight and changed her shape! She looked marvelous!

As we met up on the trail, we exchanged pleasantries about the cool morning temperatures, how hot it would be later in the day, and crazy Grace with the soccer ball imbedded in her mouth. I commented with exuberance over the changed appearance of the new walker, and she with well-deserved pride told me that she had lost over 30 pounds by eating well and adding in a routine physical activity program. How fantastic.

The cheerleader then said “You’re Robin, aren’t you? Your business is HeartMatters”! Surprised but pleased, I confessed to her acknowledgment and I asked how she knew about me. Excitedly, she recounted that she had heard me speak twice in the past few months—in early Spring, I had presented at a Soroptimist luncheon, and more recently, the Nevada County Association of Realtors had invited me to speak at their quarterly business meeting. This woman had happened to be at both of those presentations!

The focus of the program for the Soroptimist group had been bringing balance into our lives; women tend to take care of others first, allowing themselves to be last on the priority list. I discussed the opportunity to shift this way of life, as well as strategies to find time during the busy day to sit quietly and create a state of relaxation, to choose real foods that support physical and emotional health, and to establish a routine physical activity program.

The Association of Realtors presentation had a different theme; called Your Heart Matters, I addressed the opportunity to decrease risk factors that lead to disease states (cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes to name a few), and focused on behavior change. The key elements were deep breathing to increase mindfulness and relaxation, positive affirmation, and small step goal achievement.

Back to the conversation with these two fellow walkers… the woman who in the past had seemed to be a newbie to walking, excitedly offered this, “Oh yes, she [her walking mate, the cheerleader] told us all about what you said, about breathing, about setting small step goals, about eating real food…”; “Yes”, said the cheerleader, “you gave us great information and each day I breathe to relax, and to lower my blood pressure! It’s been very helpful.”

I was truly touched, not only by the recognition, but more so by the fact that I had been able to impact the life of a Nevada County community member. What an honor it is for me to share my knowledge with others, and to know that in that sharing comes a motivation, a forward movement towards optimal health. For that opportunity, I am grateful.

Get Moving!

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Does the word “moving” conjure images of sweat, grunts, and aching muscles? Have you enjoyed a Zumba class on a Friday after work, only to rise Saturday morning with a stiff back? Or joined a gym with the best intention of managing your weight, gaining energy, and becoming fit, to find that after a valiant initial 6 week effort you have become quite skilled at finding more and more excuses that prevent your maintaining a workout schedule?

Moving does not have to be an Olympic effort. Movement should not be “hard”, unpleasant, or expensive. What moving should be is fun, varied, stimulating, and within your comfort zone.

What’s important is to GET MOVING! You’ve heard this before: park your car on the opposite end of the lot so that you walk a good distance into the store or movie theater; take the stairs instead of the elevator; push the grocery cart out to your car instead of allowing the nice young man to do it; find every and any excuse to move throughout the day.  Take three minutes each hour to push your chair away from your desk to stretch your shoulders and neck; stand on your toes then rock onto your heels; do some wall pushups, squats, or bicep curls.  Get creative!  For every three minutes of activity at your desk, you will enjoy a burst of energy and productivity.  Read the rest of this entry »

Robin has the unique gift of being a true motivational speaker…

Robin has the unique gift of being a true motivational speaker as her passion for health and fitness is palpable and engaging. She is also a content expert in the field of cardiac care and wellness. Her expertise in these areas is respected by physician, staff, and clients.”
—Nancy Deitchman, RN, MSN, Quality Care Manager, Grass Valley

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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