Perceived Exertion

7 Min Read

When someone says to me, I have been exercising for months now and I am not losing any weight. Several issues come to mind, but I want to discuss only one for now. Last week we talked about intensity, and how it relates to exercise. Well intensity may be one reason why you may not be seeing a change in your body. What I mean by this is…(sorry this may hurt) you may not be exercising as hard as you think you are. What I mean by using the word hard is the intensity of your workout. A personal training client of mine used walking as her form of cardiovascular exercise. She expressed a concern to me that she has been walking for 4 weeks now and hasn’t seen much a of a difference in her body. So I suggested for that mornings session, that we take a walk. She lived in a beautiful gated community, there were so many well manicured yards, a lake, landscaped bicycle path and neighbors out for a morning stroll. As we began our walk, we passed the first house and she slowed down to tell me to look at this most perfectly shaped magnolia tree. It was beautiful, but to really study it, we had to slow down. I told her we needed to gradually pick up our pace to the point we were breathing heavy and  started to feel sweaty. But again, she stopped to thank a neighbor for picking up her newspaper while she and her husband were gone for the weekend. (we stopped completely). Now we had to start up again and for the next 10 minutes we held a pretty good pace, I challenged her with a few minutes of powering walking and slow down to her normal pace and then once again pick up the power walk. She said for the first time walking, she felt herself glisten, according to her southern women don’t sweat they glisten. Okay… so we were now glistening and walking when we came upon another house in which she started to tell me how this neighbor was going to add on to the enormous house they had already. I told her I don’t mean to be rude but keep walking don’t stop. After 45 minutes, she wanted to stop so we slowed our pace and headed back to her house. She said she was pooped. My pint in sharing this story with you is yes, you may be going through the motions of a cardiovascular exercise but are you really exercising with intensity?

To keep it real, I use a pulse rate monitor. I wear it around my wrist like a watch and I believe it is pretty close to being accurate. The most accurate method would be to take your own pulse, for a one minute period, but for most people you have to slow down to really focus on counting each pulse you feel, so to avoid slowing down I use the monitor. A pulse rate monitor will indicate your current pulse per minute. What should your pulse rate be if you are working out?

While there a few different methods out there to determine your Target Heart Rate, (THR) I prefer to use the Karvonen Formula. To begin you need to take your pulse rate for 3 consecutive mornings, this means even before you swing your feet off the bed you must lie still and take your pulse, be sure to have a clock to count your pulse for one full minute. To take your carotid pulse, place your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, slide your fingers down until under the jawbone, press lightly. For your radial pulse, place your index and middle finger over the outside of your opposite wrist, wiggle your thumb and place your two fingers at the base of your thumb. Count each beat for one full minute. For our example, lets say for three mornings you recorded your resting heart rate (RHR) at 74, 76,  75. Now add these RHR together and divide by 3. This would figure out to be 75 RHR.

Now take 220- age= maximum Heart Rate. Lets say you are my client from above and you are 40 years old. Her RHR=75. She is 40 years old. So 220-40=180.

Next determine  if you are a beginner or want only a low fitness level your target would be 50-60% of your maximum heart rate.

For an intermediate or average fitness level aim for 60-70% of your MHR.

For advanced or high fitness level aim for 75-85% of your MHR.

(Other factors that you should take into consideration for determining your heart rate should be your fitness level, your age, injuries, and any medications you may be taking.  I advise you to ask your doctor to determine your THR.)

(MHR-RHR)xIntensity+RHR=THR 

220-age= Max Heart Rate (220-40=180 MHR)

MHR-RHR= 180-75=105

Her level is a beginner so her range will be;

105 x .50 (minimum intensity) + 75 (RHR)= 128 Beats Per Minute BPM

Her maximum beginner intesity is

105 x .60 (Max intensity) +75 (RHR) = 138 BPM

So for my client when she is walking her heart rate needs to be within 128 – 138 BPM to make a difference in her body.

I hope this helps you in your quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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