Now that you’ve got your baseline physical activity up, we can move on to adding in the correct intensity of exercise. First let’s go over the recommendations.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (the latest and greatest as they only revamp them every… 15 years, I think) recommends that all adults get “75 vigorous intensity minutes or 150 moderate intensity minutes each week.” So that’s an average of 11 vigorous minutes everyday or 21.5 moderate minutes everyday. That makes it sound more do-able to me. I can carve out 11 or 21.5 minutes of my day to work on making my brain (and the rest of me too) healthy, can’t you?
So back to the intensity… what do they mean by “vigorous” and “moderate?” Here’s a nice little diagram to show that.
So really this “vigorous” and “moderate” is very subjective and will probably change for everyone over the course of your active life span. For example, I used to play singles tennis for hours everyday on my university tennis team– which would probably put it at a moderate rate for me then. But I haven’t played in 3 years now (sadly, I can’t afford it), so it would probably fall in the vigorous category for me now. Same thing as we age. As we age our max heart decreases, so things that used to be simple become very strenuous. For example, as I monitor some of my geriatric patients, for some of them just walking across the room will increase their heart rate into their cardiovascular training zones and they’ll tell me it was in that moderate-vigorous range too. I like this method because it doesn’t cost anything but a little brain power to figure out.
Which brings us to another way to measure cardiovascular intensity: heart rate. This method is more accurate; however, it takes more brain power (a little math to set up) and some equipment– a heart rate monitor. (Click the link for appx 3500 options for these gadgets at Amazon. I got really excited when a new generation FitBit put a heart monitor in their gizmo, but the reviews are bad on its accuracy. My sources tell me the most accurate sort are the ones that come with a chest strap.)
So we’re wanting 60-70% heart rate maximum for moderate intensity or 70-80% for vigorous.
Now comes a little math. Let’s do an example as I explain.
So to find your heart rate maximum: 220 – (your age)= heart rate maximum. So let’s say I’m training with someone 60 years of age. 220-60= 160 for heart rate maximum.
So then to make the target heart rate range for moderate intensity exercise we do 160 x 0.6= 96 and 160 x 0.7= 112. So a 60 year old’s training heart rate range for moderate intensity exercise is 96-112 heart beats per minute.
Let’s do the math again for the vigorous training range just make sure we get it. (I hope you’re following my math. I always hated math class in school, because I couldn’t follow the steps half the time.) So again we take 160 x 0.7 = 112 and 160 x 0.8= 128. So a 60 years old’s training heart range for vigorous intensity exercise is 112-128 beats per minute.
So in summary our 60 year old example needs to move themselves at an intensity of 4-6/10 or 96-112 beats per minute for 21.5 minutes everyday OR at an intensity of 7-8/10 or 112-128 beats per minute for 11 minutes everyday.
Now these minutes can also count toward your baseline moving everyday too. The fancy gadget baseline moving trackers (or at least I know FitBit does, because that’s what I use) has a way you an manually enter in your other activities that aren’t based on steps and they’ll give you step credit for the activity toward your baseline. As it should.
Which brings us to our last and final question: what kinds of activities would get me into the moderate and vigorous activity range? Basically anything if you do it hard enough but here are some examples.
— speed walking
— surf boarding
— kite boarding
–hiking, especially when carrying a pack over hilly terrain
— any sport– tennis (my favorite), basketball, golf (if you speed walk between holes carrying your bag), racquetball
— martial arts
— cycling (apparently it’s National Bicycling Month. A perfect excuse to get out there on your bike! Or in there on a stationary bike, haha!)
The picture on the front page with this post is what I did yesterday (today’s my off day) for my physical activity– running on the beach. It was so invigorating. I think I may try to go out there once a week for a run. (I’m just far enough from the beach that it gets a little tricky going that far on a regular basis.)
What’s your favorite activity? Do it at a high enough intensity and I’m sure it’ll work into your plans just fine. Bring a friend with you if you can! Studies show if you do your activity with a friend, you’re more likely to stick with it! Which is what this is all about: an active lifestyle for a healthy you!
Ready for step three?