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If you’re looking for vigorous exercise options, you’ll find plenty of choices. Typical activities that will raise your heart rate to a vigorous level include riding a bike at a speed of 14 to 16 mph and jogging at a speed of 6 mph.
If you’re the sporty type, basketball, soccer or singles tennis are also likely to get your heart rate up to the vigorous level. If you’re not a fan of typical workouts, know that everyday tasks like carrying a heavy load or shoveling can also be considered vigorous exercise.
Exercise does the body good, but only if you get enough of it. Weight Watchers doesn’t provide its own specific exercise goals. It does, however, recommend following the guidelines established by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American College of Sports Medicine.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people get 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise each day. Similarly, the ACSM recommends that you get 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least three times per week.
Using a heart rate monitor to determine Activity Points?
Your heart doesn’t lie — at least not when it comes to exercise intensity. Weight Watchers defines vigorous exercise as anything that will raise your heart rate above 70 percent of your maximum. Use an easy little formula to estimate your maximum heart rate:
just subtract your age from 220. For instance, if you’re 30 years old then your maximum heart rate is 190. Any exercise that raises your heart rate above 133 beats per minute — 70 percent of 190 — would be considered vigorous in this example.
To determine your maximum heart rate number, subtract your age from 220. Multiply that number by the perceived intensity level percentage to determine how many beats your heart should beat per minute.
For example, to determine the maximum heart rate for a 40 year old, subtract 40 from 220, which equals 180. To perform a highly intensive workout, multiply 180 by 0.70, which equals to 126. Based on this example, any exercise that kicks your heart rate up to 126 beats per minute or more is considered an intense workout.
I was perusing the Weight Watchers website and I found this article about using your heart rate monitor to measure your Exercise Intensity Levels.
The levels are surprisingly low. They use the typical calculation for Maximum Heart Rate:
Maximum Heart Rate = 220 – Age
They state you can calculate your activity levels based on the following:
- Light is about 40-54% Maximum Heart Rate.
- Moderate is 55-69% Maximum Heart Rate.
- Heavy is equal to or greater than 70% Maximum Heart Rate.
I used much more vigorous percentages in my estimates, so this bit of news has made things much easier for me.
For more information on the Weight Watchers Flex Points Program, please read the following entry:
You’ve seen them in your step classes, your spinning classes, on the treadmill… everywhere. Now more than ever, heart rate monitors are getting strapped to the chests of workout warriors and even occasional gym-goers. Why? They’re one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout.
A heart rate monitor (HRM) is a two-part device that tells you how hard your heart is working by measuring its beats-per-minute. A strap gets clipped to your chest to sense your heartbeats, and a watch continuously displays your heart-beat reading. It’s great for measuring your real workout intensity.
«Some days you judge your workout by how you feel. An HRM helps you get more out of your workout on the days when exercise feels harder than it actually is,» says C.C. Cunningham, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. But if you don’t know what your heart rate should be, the number on your monitor won’t mean much.
Basically, people have three different heart-rate measurements: Your resting heart rate can be measured when you wake up in the morning. A good range is 60 to 79 beats per minute. Your ambient heart rate is what takes place most of the day — say, when you’re sitting at your computer or talking on the phone. An average ambient heart rate ranges between 70 and 75. When you exercise, your goal is to reach a predetermined percentage of your maximum heart rate, which generally averages about 220 minus your age in years.
For example, a maximum heart rate for a woman who is 40 years old would average about 180 beats per minute (220-40=180). Once you know your maximum heart rate, you want to work at about 50 to 65 percent of that number if you’re a beginner; 60 to 75 percent if you’re moderately fit; and 70 to 85 percent if you’re very fit. Thus if our 40-year-old woman is a beginner exerciser, she’ll want her monitor to read between 90 and 117 beats per minute. (Don’t worry, your HRM will do the calculation for you.)
«A heart rate monitor takes the fear out of exercise for anyone who is afraid of overexerting themselves, because it helps you know what range is effective for your physical conditioning program,» says Dr. JoAnne Dahlkoetter, PhD, a sports psychologist at Stanford University Medical Center and best-selling author of Your Performing Edge, the Complete Mind-Body Guide to Excellence in Health, Sports, and Life (Pulgas Ridge Press, 2002). «You also know when you’re being lazy, and when it’s time to pick up the pace,» she adds.
Benefits of HRMs
Anyone who does cardiovascular workouts can benefit from a heart rate monitor, including runners, walkers, bikers and elliptical-machine users. «And it’s a good device for people who like numbers, people who have been training and have reached a plateau, and those who are restricted to a certain heart-rate range by a physician,» says Cunningham. In addition to basic HRM units that just display your heart rate, some costlier models permit you to download your data into your personal computer, if you want to keep very careful track of your workouts.
Sheila, a 32-year-old athlete, uses a Polar M52 heart rate monitor (the basic variety) when she runs and when she swims. [Note: Maximum heart rate is about 13 beats per minute lower when swimming.] «I’m really busy and want to make every minute of exercise count,» she says. «With my heart rate monitor, I can tell immediately if I’m not working hard enough, and how effective my different types of workouts are overall.»
Ready to strap on a heart rate monitor? Here are a few suggestions:
- The strap should be snug, not comfortable — but don’t let it cut off your circulation.
- Put Vaseline along the inside of the strap that goes around your chest to prevent chafing on the body.
- Swimming? Buy a waterproof version.
- If you work out in a club where everyone uses an HRM, be careful. Your signals can cross and your machine will shut down. You can buy HRMs with their own unique code, but if you don’t have one, just find a remote space to work out in if you can.
Subscriber Highlight: Find Activity PointsPlus™ values for your favorite exercises quickly and easily with our Activity PointsPlus Calculator.
Ready to start losing weight?
Activity points for light intensity = [your weight] x [minutes] x 0.00023
Activity points for moderate intensity = [your weight] x [minutes] x 0.00033
Activity points for high intensity = [your weight] x [minutes] x 0.00081
Since you wear a monitor anyway, and since sometimes it’s hard to know how hard you’re working, here’s something else that might be useful to you. To factor whether I’m working out at high, moderate, or low intensity, I use the following formula to calculate my own personal heart rate targets (credit goes to Joanne for this one, too):
For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person’s target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of his or her maximum heart rate. This maximum rate is based on the person’s age. An estimate of a person’s maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person’s age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 — 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm). The 50% and 70% levels would be:
50% level: 170 x 0.50 = 85 bpm, and
70% level: 170 x 0.70 = 119 bpm
Thus, moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 85 and 119 bpm during physical activity.
For vigorous-intensity physical activity, a person’s target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of his or her maximum heart rate. To calculate this range, follow the same formula as used above, except change «50 and 70%» to «70 and 85%». For example, for a 35-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 — 35 years = 185 beats per minute (bpm). The 70% and 85% levels would be:
70% level: 185 x 0.70 = 130 bpm, and
85% level: 185 x 0.85 = 157 bpm
Thus, vigorous-intensity physical activity for a 35-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 130 and 157 bpm during physical activity.
Weight Watchers determines workout intensity level in two ways — by heart rate and physical clues of exertion. Exercises that increase your heart rate between 40 and 60 percent of your maximum heart rate level is considered low to moderately intensive exercise.
Exercises that increase your heart rate 70 percent or more of your maximum heart rate level is considered high-intensity exercise. Physical clues for highly intensive exercise include breaking out in a sweat quickly, deep and rapid breathing and difficulty maintaining a conversation while exercising.
For a highly-intensive workout, try running, bike riding or swimming at a vigorous pace. Try rock climbing or sign up for martial arts classes, like karate or cardio-kickboxing. You can also jump rope or play sports, such as soccer, tennis or basketball, for at least 30 minutes.
According to Harvard Health Publications, many of these activities burn more than 700 calories in just 30 minutes, depending on your weight. Choose multiple physical activities and sports to prevent exercise boredom. Anything that gets your heart beating fast is considered an intense workout.
Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you haven’t worked out in a while or the thought of vigorous exercise seems daunting, slowly build up your stamina and endurance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk over to your co-worker’s office instead of sending an email.
Your heart rate’s an accurate measure of your intensity, but sometimes it’s just easier to rely on how you’re feeling.This assessment is known as a rating of perceived exertion. If your workout causes you to sweat after three to five minutes, then you know you’re doing vigorous exercise.
You should be breathing quickly during vigorous exercise. If you’re chatting with your girlfriends while exercising, you should still be able to speak, but only in short phrases. Be honest with yourself about your efforts;
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Why You Should Do High-Intensity Exercise
I’ve just started the 30 day shred… YOW!
It’s intense to say the least I was very sore
this morning and I didn’t want to do it but I
ended up giving it a shot taking it easy in places
and really pushing in others and I’m happy to say
I stuck it out I’m really hoping this will help my
progress at weigh ins! My first meeting was on January
5th and so far I’ve lost a grand total of 6 pounds
which I’m happy about however the last time I’d joined
(5 years ago) I’d had much faster results so I am trying
to remain positive and remind myself this is for life
not just this past week. Also I’ve had two kids
and I would imagine that would make changes in metabolism
(?) not to mention the difference between being 22 and 27.
Knowing how to monitor intensity will help ensure that you’re using this training tool most effectively. “There are two common ways to measure exercise intensity the most common of which is heart or pulse rate:
the higher the intensity effort, the higher the heart rate,” explains Walt Thompson, PhD, president of the American College of Sports Medicine and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Georgia State University.
To measure heart rate, you can count how many times your heart beats in 30 seconds and multiply it by two for your beats per minute, or you can wear a heart rate monitor, which will provide continuous readings throughout your workout.
The second way to measure intensity is based on how you feel, which is called the rating of perceived exertion, or RPE. With RPE, you assign a number to how hard you feel you’re working; a higher number corresponds with higher intensity, and thus a higher heart rate.
“The original Borg scale started at six and went to 20 and, if multiplied by 10, any rating would approximate heart rate,” explains Thompson. “The more common scale is zero to 10, with zero being no effort and 10 being maximal effort.
Moderate effort would be around a 7 to 8.” A simpler, albeit less scientific method measures intensity on a scale of 1 to 4, which corresponds with levels of exercise that are mild, moderate, severe, and exhaustive.
Studies have shown that high-intensity exercise can help control blood glucose levels, improve cardiovascular fitness, and reduce blood pressure. According to Thompson, another benefit of using intensity in your workouts is the time you save.
“Workouts can be shorter in duration,” explains Thompson. “A busy person can get the same benefit with a higher-intensity, shorter-duration exercise program when compared to the lower-intensity, longer-duration program.
Not many years ago, high-intensity interval training, aka HIIT, was something done only by athletes who were looking for a sports performance edge. During HIIT, short bouts of severe and exhaustive intensities are reached and separated with mild intensity exercise.
However, times have changed. “The latest scientific literature on the topic of high intensity interval training seems to suggest that many populations can benefit from increasing intensity,” explains Thompson. “There is now less fear of increasing injury rates with high-intensity interval exercise.”
However, he warns that people who haven’t engaged in high-intensity exercise should work with someone who knows what he or she is doing. “Work with someone who has the education, training, and experience with this kind of activity,” such as an American College of Sports Medicine certified fitness professional who can offer the best advice and answer any questions you may have as you begin to incorporate this type of training into your workout program.
Before adding high-intensity exercise to your workout routine, get the green light from your physician. Also be conservative and build intensity slowly, over a period of weeks. If during a workout you begin to feel lightheaded, feel chest pain or shortness of breath or feel your heart is beating uncontrollably, stop the workout and make a call to your doctor.
Ultimately, no single intensity and no single activity is better than the other. Physical activity of various intensities and durations all lead to weight loss. The best workout is the one you enjoy and will keep you moving regularly.
RELATED:Beginner’s Guide to Interval Training