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New exercise goals

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I just read the DailySpark blog entry today that reported that the target heart rates women have been told for years are probably too high. Here are my numbers:

Standard calculation (220 - age):
- max heart rate: 179
- target heart rate (55%-85% max): 99-152

Karvonen formula:
- max heart rate: 195 (!)
- target heart rate: 127-162

NEW formula for women (206 - 88% of age):
- max heart rate: 170
- target heart rate: 94-144

Wow, that's a big difference. I'm not currently running at all, but when I was running with a heart rate monitor, I remember that during an intense part of the run (going uphill, especially), my heart rate would hover in the mid-160s, and I really felt like crap. Now I wonder how close to my max heart rate I was - and whether I was pushing myself too hard. When I was running at an easy pace with regular walk intervals, my heart rate would stick around the 140s, sometimes low 150s. That felt pretty good. When I was doing a warmup walk, my heart rate almost instantly jumped from around 72 to somewhere in the low- to mid-90s. I wasn't working hard, but now it seems that I was already getting into the lower range of a good target for aerobic exercise.

OK, enough numbers. What do they mean for me, and for my exercise goals?

I'll be honest - I'm not exercising much these days. From running 3 times a week and walking most other days, I've gone now to walking maybe once or twice a week. There are lots of good reasons, in particular that I fractured my big toe and could barely walk at all for a while. I have a new work schedule and a long daily commute I didn't have before. Then there's that ridiculously oppressive heat here in the South that's lasted for weeks now. It's 80 degrees by the time I get out the door to go to work in the morning. I can't even imagine running in this heat.

But the truth is that I didn't lose ANY weight running. I had a great time, I ran some 5Ks and a 4-miler, and I was super proud of myself for doing something I never thought I could do. But it didn't do much to help me achieve my weight loss goals. Walking did. I walked away the pounds - literally - 70 of them. 25 of those have come back now, and so I know what I need to do: return to the tried and true, what worked before.

In addition to getting the calories back under control, I need to walk. It doesn't seem like it does that much, really. My face isn't bright red when I'm done, as it was when I ran. I'm not pouring sweat, although I definitely break a sweat in this heat even walking at an easy pace. I don't set any personal records, and I can't brag about how many miles I ran. But right now I don't need to enter any races - I need to fit into my jeans. I need to feel that I'm in control of my body and being healthy.

I used to work from home a lot, and so I could walk any time of day. That's not true any more. I have to be out the door looking professional by 8:30 most mornings, and that's been a big adjustment for me. But even if I can't fit in a 45-minute run, I can walk for 20 minutes - and maybe, especially right now, that's actually better for me. It will keep me in my target heart range so that my body doesn't feel stressed and hungry all the time. It will remind me of my goals. And it will help me feel successful with and in control of my healthy goals.

So - to start with, at least two 20-minute walks before work during the week, and at least one longer walk on the weekend. It's almost too easy. But the challenge for me right now is not in the intensity of the exercise, it's in the consistency. Intensity can happen later - consistency is what I need right now.

OK, off to bed so that I can do my 20-minute walk before work tomorrow!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love my WATP DVD's. The 1 mile and 2 mile walks are perfect when you don't have too much time and it's too hot or cold or wet outside.
    3726 days ago
    emoticon Great goal!!!
    3726 days ago
    Sounds like a great plan to get you out the door. I'll have to look into my "new" heart rate ranges... Might explain why I've been feeling so run down lately.
    3727 days ago
    I missed the article about the new heart rate guidelines - I will go look that up. Very interesting!

    Another thing you might consider is hiking. It's as easy on your body as walking, with the added benefit of being very peaceful and almost meditative. I love hiking - it's my preferred activity, usually - so if you ever want to go together I would love that. Eno and Jordan Lake are 2 of my favorite (close) trails that I have found around here.

    Good luck with walking before work! I could never get in that pattern. How are you liking your new job, Dr. M?
    3727 days ago
    I like walking---- oh, yes, I love walking.
    I never, ever, injure something so I can't do it the next day.
    And that means- it's just a part of my every day, all the time, no problemo life.
    Just the way I want it.
    A ..... drum roll..... lifestyle.
    Not a big honking achievement to put in the papers, not an article to write about.
    Just... every day. All my life.
    I think I hear the beach calling- that frontage road is so pretty.
    3727 days ago
  • NANCYCA555
    You've hit on some good ideas; just remember that you are WORTH finding the time for. I know what you mean about walking, too; it does kind of seem too easy. Good luck with work, professional lady. Hope you can find time at lunch and such to maybe throw on some comfy shoes and get out for a walk, even if it's up and down stairs.
    3727 days ago
    Sounds like you have really put some thought into your next step. You know that you can do it, you have done it before! Your numbers have made me stop and think about my different excercising and what is working best and I agree, go for a walk.
    3727 days ago
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