Monday, March 28, 2011



 Your HEART is a muscle. When you exercise, you are strengthening it. Your HEART is known as a "use-it OR lose-it muscle" because if you are not being active, you are actually losing the heart's functional ability. As your heart beats, you are taking it into a ZONE.  A ZONE is simply a range of heart beats, or known as BEATS PER MINUTE (bpm). Your heart rate is usually around 70 beats per minute if you are sitting down or doing some light activity. Your RESTING HEART RATE is usually in the 50's or 60's and this is measured when you first wake up in the morning or when you get out of bed. The best way to calculate your Resting Heart Rate Zone is to count your pulse for fifteen seconds. Begin the count on zero and multiply by four. Do this for five days and average the results on the last day.  If you are a fit athlete, your heart rate and resting heart rates are lower than normal. The lower your Resting Heart Rate is the healthier and stronger your heart.

Maximum Heart Rate (Max HR) is the highest possible heart rate you can achieve or the highest number of times you heart can beat in one minute. Once you know you Maximum Heart Rate you can easily figure out you HEART RATE ZONE. You can either take a max stress test administered by a medical or sports professional or simply calculate this simple formula: 208-(0.7 x YOUR AGE) to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. There are a few more factors to consider when determining your Maximum Heart Rate. 1. What is your fitness level? Are you considered in Poor Shape, Fair Shape, or in Good Shape? 2. Do you lack sleep? Are you eating properly? Do you stress out? These important questions play an important role and might not give you an accurate answer, but will tell you where your Maximum Heart Rate lies. Once you know your Maximum Heart Rate, the next step is to see where you fall in the Heart Rate Zones.

The Heart Rate Zones actually tells you if you are exercising to the max and if the result of your exercise will benefit you. There are 5 Zones and they are each 10% of your Maximum Heart Rate.  Zone 1 is the 'Lowest" Zone which ranges start at 50%. Zone 5 is your "Max" Zone which ranges around 90%. To figure out your Maximum Heart Rate in each zone, simply multiply your Maximum Heart rate by the percentage level in each 5 Zones. So for example, if my Maximum Heart Rate is 180, my Heart Rate Zone when reached in Zone 3 would be 126 beats per minute. "What does each Zone mean?" Zone 1 is where most beginners or those individuals who have not exercised fall in.  It is the lowest level you can exercise, but still where you get a good workout. In Zone 2, your heart actually begins to improve its ability to pump blood and utilize oxygen. Here your body fat is the source of energy of your exercise activity.  Zone 3 is known as the "aerobic zone". In other words, you are bringing in more oxygen into the muscles which increases your muscle strength. This is where you are actually getting a lot covered in a short period of time. Always strive to reach this Zone!  In Zones 4 and 5, your body is slowly coming to a halt. Your body is getting to a point where it's running out of gas. In Zone 4, your muscles begin to fatigue due to "Lactic Acid." When you exercise, you need oxygen to produce the right amount of energy to your muscles. But if you are pushing yourself too much, you produce a chemical called Lactic Acid that accumulates into the muscles and into your bloodstream which makes your body step on the break and stop. If you are not in great shape, it is a good idea to not train at this level. In this Zone, Lactic Acid takes over your entire body which limits the amount of oxygen into the muscles for energy. It is very hard, even for someone in great shape, to maintain their levels in this Zone.
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