Are You Working Out at the Correct Intensity for You?

 

If you are one of the many that feel that your workouts have become ineffective and boring consider re-evaluating your intensity level. When we start a new exercise routine or program we may find it initially challenging, and struggle getting through the first few minutes. Over time your body  gets used to the exercise as your heart and supporting muscles gain strength. You no longer have to work that hard to work up a sweat and are not getting the most out of your workouts. If you want to continue reaping the benefits of exercise you may need to take a closer look at your intensity level or readjust your target training zone.
Your training zone is specific to your age and ability level and  determines how hard you need to be working  in order to burn fat, calories and increase your overall fitness.  If you have been on a treadmill or other cardio machine at a gym you may already know that you can input your age, level of difficulty  and duration and hold onto the heart rate sensors on the handles to get your beats per minute. These numbers, including calories burned can sometimes be off, since the machine can not estimate your current fitness level. Use these numbers as a guide but also pay attention to how you hard you think you are working (referred to as  perceived exertion)  Studies have found that perceived exertion closely correlates to actual heart rate monitor readings.
What if you walk, bike or run for fitness and want to know how hard you are working? There are many popular fitness monitors on the market geared for the techie who likes to track their steps, calories and heart rate. If these features are appealing to you consider investing in one to motivate and keep you on track.

 

The chart above gives examples of exercises and where they may fall on the intensity scale. Typically most people can safely work in their aerobic zone (75-80%) which can help with fat loss, increase aerobic output and endurance. An important thing to remember is one size doesn’t fit all so if you have been sedentary for a while stay in the blue and yellow zones (50-75%) until you build up your endurance. An  avid exerciser however, may be able to do  short duration high intensity work at a level (80-85%)  that will challenge them and increase their fitness.
Consult a personal trainer in help with calculating your individual heart rate training zone to make sure you are working out at the correct intensity for you.  Your resting heart rate will be used as well to  allow a more accurate range based on your current fitness level.

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