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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I had signed up for a one hour high intensity aerobic workout with a friend, and we both went in there with both barrels blazing. I cut out of the class early and went to the bathroom because I was sick. I also was overheating. I wasn't even sweating anymore because I was way above my Target Heart Range.

In the 80s, when you took an aerobics class, they didn't talk about heart rates or targets or how you felt while working out, so it was easy to overexert yourself. And it can be very dangerous. Now we know that we have to watch our heart rates. Foolishly, I thought I was young and in reasonably good shape, so it would be no big deal. WRONG!!

It's not only good to keep a handle on your heart rate, but very important! According to an article in the Fitness Resources section of Spark People, there are 3 ways to assess your heart rate during exercise: Target Heart Range (THR), Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and The Talk Test. I use a combination of each.

If you can't answer a question during a workout, you're probably working too hard and you need to back off a little. But you don't want to carry on a conversation either. (Talk Test)

Target Heart Range (and my favorite) is figured by taking 220 minus your age and multiplying that number by the percentage fitness level you are currently at: if you're a beginner, it's 50-60%, intermediate or average, 60-70%, and advanced or high fitness level 75-85%. For example, 220 minus my age of 49 = 171, which is the maximum heart range. You should NEVER reach that while you're working out!! Then take 171 X my fitness level of intermediate (60-70% in my case) = my THR of 103 - 120 beats per minute.

If you keep your heart rate in your range during the aerobic portion of your workout, you should not have a problem with overheating or lightheadedness or dizziness. (If you take beta blockers, this doesn't apply to you. Talk to a doctor first.) Exercise for 5 min then take your pulse (do this a couple times during your workout). The easiest way to do it is to count your pulse for 6 seconds and then multiply by 10 to get your beats per minute. Compare that to your THR and adjust accordingly. If it's over the top number, slow down, stop using your arms (which contribute about 12% to the aerobic intensity), go from a jumping jack to a walk, etc. If it's below the bottom number, increase your intensity a little. Then take it again a few minutes later, until it's within your range.

This range is required for you to lose fat. If you don't get within your THR, you likely aren't going to lose fat. As you gain experience with exercising, you'll know when you're where you need to be. Also, as you get more fit, your THR will change, so reevaluate it every 6-8 weeks.

So now, I NEVER get overheated like I did in the 80s. It is NOT fun to feel like that after a workout!! Be informed! Do your homework! and you wont get discouraged like I did because I assure you, I didn't want to go back to that class because: 1) I was embarrassed and 2) I was afraid I wouldn't be able to complete the class without overheating again!
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