Participants in any sport fall into one of three categories: competitive, committed or recreational. When it comes to fitness, it’s not necessary that you be competitive, but you do need to be committed.
The cyclists on a recent 25-mile charity event ride were clearly recreational. The speed and the exertion of the cyclists were at a low level. My heart rate, measured by a heart rate monitor, never reached 60% of my maximum heart rate.
I discussed this with my trainer, Heather MacPherson. She said that the biggest challenge she has with her clients is getting them to work hard enough. For example, they’ll say they don’t need to do aerobics because they do a ten-mile bike ride several days a week, but they’re unlikely to be working at an intensity that will give them a real workout.
Fitness industry personnel use the acronym, “FIT” – Frequency, Intensity and Time. We need all three in order to have an effective workout. That leads to the question, “How do you know whether you’re working hard enough?” Here are a couple of ways to find out.
“RPE” stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion. If you’re walking, cycling or running, can you still carry of a conversation with your partners without difficulty? If so, you need to work harder, at least part of the time. Try to spend one minute every five to ten minutes working at a faster pace, then go back down to your normal pace. You’ll soon find that your normal pace has picked up a bit as a result.
Heart Rate Monitor – This is a very useful device for committed exercisers, a small investment that will be useful for decades. It can tell you your current heart rate and many can record how much time you spent in each heart rate zone: 60% to 70%, 70% to 80%, etc., all measuring your percent of your MHR – Maximum Heart Rate.
If you’re unsure as to how to calculate the numbers go to my website and click on “Heart Rate Zones Calculator.” To determine your resting heart rate, needed for the calculation, sit or lie still for a few minutes, count your pulse for ten seconds and multiply that number by six
Note: This article originally appeared in the News-Press, Fort Myers, FL on March 18, 2014.