Heart Rates

This is just a little follow up from yesterday’s post in which I described the heart rates I aim for in my workouts.

Here is the American Heart Association’s recommendation for target heart rate zones. It will give you a general idea for what a healthy range is for someone of your age. I also find this to be a helpful site if you take a spin class and the instructor gives instructions regarding your percentage of effort throughout the ride. For example, during some spin intervals, my instructors want 70% effort, but during others, they want 85 to 90% effort.

You need to have balance with your workout intensity. Working out out too hard can lead to injury. Working out too lightly could result in a lack of progress.

What are the benefits to working out at a higher intensity?

  • greater number of calories burned per minute (also known as: the workout can be done faster!)
  • can increase strength and endurance
  • can increase metabolism
  • endorphin boost (some people call this a “runner’s high” but you can get it without running as long as your cardio work is high intensity!)

Benefits of low-intensity workouts:

  • Warm ups and cool downs should be low intensity.
  • Good way for the elderly, injured, ill or unfit to get exercise.
  • Very low likelihood of sustaining an injury
  • A good way to handle a “rest” day. Just because you’re taking a day off from the gym doesn’t mean you can be a slug all day. In my experience, that mentality just encourages me to think of workouts as “work,” making them seem like a burden. Instead, I try to have some kind of physical activity everyday–even if it is a low-intensity, leisurely walk–so activity feels a more natural part of my lifestyle.

 Of course, be sure to consult with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

Also keep in mind that more isn’t necessarily better. One of the negative effects of a high intensity workout is that your cortisol levels can rise (increasing fatigue, decreasing weight loss, increasing hunger and stressing out the body) with longer high intensity workouts. High intensity workouts should only be 35-60 minutes long, depending on your fitness level.

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