How Much Should I Exercise?

Hi friends, happy Friday. How are you all?

I mentioned THR (Target Heart Rate) in my last blog on the secrets of 10K steps and said that to get maximum results from our walks, we ideally need to maintain our THR for a certain period of time, with consistency.

Some of you asked about how to calculate THR. Coincidentally, something happened to me a few days back that got me thinking hard on the topic as well. It’s a complicated topic but let’s try to simplify it today.

But. Before I start further, let me put a disclaimer. Four, actually.

  • All these THR, MHR, RHR etc are different for different people. As these are generally used as ranges, if one end of the range is low for someone, quite possibly the other end is relatively low too
  • There should always be a gradual increase in the intensity of any exercise even if it’s walking
  • In case you find any difference in the healthy ranges of all these parameters and this difference ever translates into any physical concerns (such as chest pain, weakness, fainting, lightheadedness or low BP etc) for you…go see a doctor immediately
  • In case you suffer from a cardiovascular ailment already, please consult your doctor before starting any moderate/intense exercise regime

Having cleared all that, let’s come back to the topic. As I was saying, a few days back, I noticed that my fitness band showed me my Peak Heart Rate. Either I never reached it earlier or I noticed it for the first time somehow.

What surprised me was the fact that it did not happen when I was sprinting on the treadmill but rather when I was doing lunges. Well, lunges with weights but still reaching my peak heart rate on a leg day when I was not really breathless (aka not panting) was surprising to me.

What Are Various Heart Zones

These of course, vary depending upon age and the fitness levels. These zones overlap also.

  • Resting Heart Rate
  • Moderate Heart Rate
  • Fat Burn Rate
  • Target Heart Rate
  • Maximum Heart Rate

How To Calculate THR

We all have a Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). It is the maximum no. of times our heart should beat when we exercise. In simple terms, this is our upper limit in terms of what our heart can handle. There is a very simple formula for it:

220 – your age = Maximum Heart Rate

Once we know our MHR, we can calculate our Target Heart Rate (THR). This is when our heart is getting exercised but not overworked. Nothing that the good little ol’ heart can’t handle!

THR is perfect if you have a fitness band and want to keep a track of whether you are working at your optimum exercise intensity…walking, jogging included. Very easy for you to define your ‘brisk walking’ speed now!

So now that we calculated out MHR, let’s get down to the THR range;

  • for light/moderate intensity exercises including walking – your THR is 50-70% of your MHR
  • for high intensity exercise like HIIT, running  etc – your THR is 70-85% of your MHR

Simple, isn’t?

Why Should I Bother with THR?

Lot of times, things are left for individual interpretation such as the term ‘brisk walking’. The downside of it is that despite a lot of walking done, many people do not reap the benefits of it because they are not walking brisk enough to get any real benefits out of it.

  • Exercising at the right intensity level helps in reaping maximum benefits out of it – not too less, not too hard
  • Maintaining a THR through a workout ensures cardiovascular as well as respiratory health and endurance
  • Maintaining it would let you know when it gets too much to ensure no burnouts happen

In general, it is recommended that one exercises in THR for 20-30 minutes for best results.

guidelines source:

On a personal note, these seemingly technical guidelines have helped me a lot. These are tools which help you in understanding your body more and how it responds to any exercise. This understanding then become our natural cues after some time. e.g. when I work-out at gym, I like to keep myself constantly in fat-burn zone which is also the target heart rate (THR) zone for me right now, for the entire hour. It’s hard but it pays off well.

However, if you feel you are in tune with your body and its cues…and you don’t want any gadgetry-help for that, you are good to go too!

Whether you like to track your performance with some technical help or you know you are good without any external cues, the end result should be the same – Awareness. Don’t push yourself too hard but don’t keep underachieving your potential. Do it slowly and steadily…but do it surely!

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Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

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