Buddha
“The mind is everything; what you think you become.”-Buddha

Activity Intensity

There are few ways to monitor your intensity while exercising but the easiest (which is why we recommend them) are Target Heart Rate (THR) and the Perceived Exertion (PE) scale.

Target Heart Rate

Perceived Exertion Scale

 

 

Target Heart Rate

Your target heart rate (THR) describes the pulse rate (in beats per minute) that allows you to exercise safely while getting the maximum benefits from your workout. Cardio exercises usually aim for moderate intensity and the related goal is to get your heart rate at about 60 to 85% of your "maximum heart rate."

There are a number of formulas that you can use to calculate your target heart rate:

1. Basic formula to figure out your target heart rate:

  1. Multiply your age (in years) by .67
  2. Subtract the result above from 206.9 (this result is your maximum heart rate)
  3. Subtract 65 from the result above (this result is your resting heart rate)
  4. Then multiply that number by 0.60 or 0.85
    1. When you first start your exercise program, you may want to use the lower number (0.60) to calculate your target heart rate.
    2. As your conditioning gradually increases, you increase to using the higher number (0.85) to calculate your target heart rate.
    3. Check your heart rate (or pulse) by placeing your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, then slide your fingers down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly. Start with zero on the first beat and count for 10 seconds, then multiply by six, which gives you an approximation of your heart rate in beats per minute. For example, if you count 20 beats in 10 seconds, your approximate heart rate would be 120 beats per minute. Check your pulse frequently throughout your workout to make sure you are within your target heart rate zone.

For example, if you are 40 years old, you would multiple 40 by .67 which would give you 26.8 (40 x .67 = 26.8). Then subtract 26.8 from 206.9, which would give you 180.1 (206.9 - 26.8 = 180.1). Then you would multiply this number by either 0.60 or 0.85, which would give you 108.06 or 153.09 (180 x 0.60=108.06 and 180 x 0.85=153.09).

 

2. Karvonen Formula - Your heart rate reserve is calculated by using age and resting heart rate.

  1. http://exercise.about.com/cs/fitnesstools/g/karvonen.htm
  2. Steven's Creek THR Formula - This online calculator involves different max heart rates according to gender and fitness level, which makes the results a bit more accurate. 
    1. http://exercise.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=exercise&cdn=health&tm=23&f=21&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&st=32&zu=http%3A//stevenscreek.com/goodies/hr.shtml
  3. Online calculators - If you're math-phobic, like me, use an online calculator to do the work for you
    1. http://exercise.about.com/cs/fitnesstools/l/bl_THR.htm

 

Monitor Your THR by Taking Your Pulse

  • You can check your heart rate (or pulse) by placeing your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, then slide your fingers down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly. Start with zero on the first beat and count for 10 seconds, then multiply by six, which gives you an approximation of your heart rate in beats per minute. For example, if you count 20 beats in 10 seconds, your approximate heart rate would be 120 beats per minute. Check your pulse frequently throughout your workout to make sure you are within your target heart rate zone.
  • Or you can use a Heart Rate Monitor - Using a heart rate monitor makes it easy to keep up with your exercise intensity because they show a continuous reading of your heart rate throughout your workout. Monitor's range anywhere from $50 to $300, offering a variety of options whether you're a beginner or advanced athlete. Most use a chest strap to get heart rate info and some offer added features such as calories burned and time spent in target heart rate zone.
  • Use the Talk Test-  If you don't have a heart rate monitor or don't want to stop your workout to take your pulse, the Talk Test is another way to monitor your intensity. If you're working at a moderate intensity, you should be able to carry on a conversation. Unless you're doing high intensity training or interval training, you shouldn't be so out of breath you that you can't talk. It can help to use a Perceived Exertion Scale along with the Talk Test. This is a scale of 1-10 for describing how hard you're working, 1 being extremely easy and 10 being extremely hard. If you're doing a moderate workout, this would translate to a Level 5 on the scale. You can also use the more official Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion which assigns level of intensity from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal exertion).

 

Perceived Exertion Scale

When exercising, it's important to monitor your intensity to make sure you're working at a pace that is challenging enough to help you reach your goals, but not so hard that you blow a lung. One way to do that is to use a Perceived Exertion Scale.

We recommend that you aim for moderate intensity so your goal is to around Level 5 or 6. If you're doing interval training, you want your recovery to be around a 4-5 and your intensity blasts to be at around 8-9. As you'll see below, working at a level 10 isn't recommended for most workouts. For longer, slower workouts, keep your PE at Level 5 or lower.

Level 1: I'm watching TV and eating chips

Level 2: I'm comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long

Level 3: I'm still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder

Level 4: I'm sweating a little, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly

Level 5: I'm just above comfortable, sweating a bit more but can still talk easily

Level 6: I can still talk, but am slightly breathless

Level 7: I can still talk, but I don't really want to. I'm sweating a lot

Level 8: I can grunt in response to your questions and can only keep this pace for a short time period

Level 9: I am probably going to die

Level 10: I am dead

 

Activity Duration & Intensity

The Daily Body Practice focuses on moderate exercise and therefore recommends that you shoot for sessions of at least 30-minutes. Moderate exercise means two things:

  • That you breathe a little heavier than normal, but are not out of breath. For example, you should be able to chat with your walking partner, but not easily sing a song.
  • That your body feels warmer as you move, but not overheated or very sweaty.

You might not have time for 30 minutes of exercise or your body may tell you to take a break after 10 minutes. That's okay. You can start with 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. Since exercising provides more energy, eventually you'll feel ready for a little more. Remember, a few minutes of activity is better than none at all.