Why It's Important To Understand The Levels of Intensity of Your Workouts
workout to the limit may be necessary to prepare for competition, but
this same intensity can make some health conditions – such as
hypertension – worse, and can be counterproductive to most
fitness goals, according to a fitness expert.
monitors, which measure your heart rate, are not necessary for a good
workout, but the little gadgets – some with hefty price tags
– can be handy if measuring the intensity of the workout is
important for specific health or competition goals.
"You can get
everything you need from moderate to low intensity exertion except for
high performance," said Julie Frey, coordinator of the Adult Fitness
Program in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology.
What do most
people need? Frey said cardiovascular fitness should be considered the
foundation for other fitness goals, such as muscle strength or
endurance. A healthy heart and blood vessels help the body's muscles
use oxygen. It's at this level that fitness improvements usually occur.
During high intensity workouts, however, muscles no longer use oxygen
as an energy source, which is why high intensity workouts are not
necessary to reach most fitness goals.
For a less
precise measurement, measure the heart rate at one's wrist or neck.
Frey recommends counting heartbeats for 10 seconds and multiplying by
six. A little math using the Karvonen Method can help determine general
heart rate targets to gauge intensity.
To view the formula, visit http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/3041.html
examples below for how intensity targets differ according to goals. The
first example is based on a hypothetical overweight woman:
weight: Her intensity should be in the low-moderate to moderate range,
ultimately working up to 60-minute workouts five to six days a week.
- Train for
a 5 kilometer race: She should vary her workout, shooting for the
low-moderate to moderate range twice a week, the moderate to
high-moderate range once a week and a low intensity workout once a
week. She should try to workout for 30-35 minutes during the higher
intensity workouts, excluding warm ups and cool downs, and 60 minutes
during the low intensity workout.
hypertension: Her intensity should be in the low to low-moderate range,
ultimately working up to 30- to 45-minute workouts four to six days a
This example involves a 20-year-old man who is athletic. He wants to remain fit and healthy:
- For the next 10-15 years, he could workout 20-30 minutes at a moderate-high intensity two to three times a week.
- In 20
years, he could de-emphasize the intensity but increase duration and
frequency. He could, for example, shoot for a moderate intensity for 30
to 40 minutes four times a week.
monitors can be useful to people who have had a cardiac event or
condition and have been prescribed heart rate guidelines by their
physicians. The monitors also can help novices match how their bodies
feels with how hard their hearts are working. Athletes training for
ultra-endurance or high-performance sports can use heart rate monitors
to pace their performance and ward off dehydration.
monitors include a device that is strapped over the chest and a second
device that looks like a wrist watch and displays the readings. They
can cost anywhere from $75 for a basic model to hundreds ofdollars for
models that include software for charting progress and recording
workouts. Some can be worn in water. "A heart rate monitor can be a
bell, a whistle to help motivate you," Frey said. "Whatever it takes."
For more information on Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology, visit http://www.indiana.edu/~kines/