Monday, June 30, 2014

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 "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus; and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."
-- Bruce Lee

A Planned & Scientific Approach
to Exercise

Let's start this posting with a few "givens".  The first one is that you are healthy enough to do exercise and that you are in reasonably good health.  There is, therefore, no medical reason why you should not exercise or have debilitating factors affecting your performance.  The second factor is that if you want to succeed, you have to make fitness a top priority in your life.  That includes attention to your diet, what you eat and if it is balanced, nutritional, and adequate to meet the requirements you place on your body.  Are you a couch potato and shaped like one?  Overweight and under exercised?
The third consideration is that you have to be motivated and consistent in your workouts.  Starting and stopping is what you do with your car.  You can buy another one but you can't exchange your body.  You LIVE in it, keep it healthy and it will keep you out of the hospital and on the tennis court.

You can do different forms of exercise, in the gym, at home, or running around a high school track. You may enjoy Pilate's, Yoga, or jumping rope.  Do what you like but remember that you should try to work all the muscles of your body, including your heart and lungs.  Look to develop a firm, trim and shapely body, with consideration for mobility, stretching, movement, flexibility and strength. Also seek to build up your endurance (watch for shortness of breath) and keep in touch with your doctor if you have medical problems.

The equipment you need for exercising is determined by the type of workouts planned.  The guidance given here is for strength training either at home or in a gym.  Try to buy workout clothes that are loose enough to allow for perspiration and comfort.  If you run, get enough room in the toe box so that your feet are comfortable and will not be cramped.  Hopefully you should be able to elevate your heart rate as it is one of the signs of what happens when you exercise.  Couch potatoes are attached to the ground, but you should be active, moving, breathing at an elevated rate, and with  your heart rate in the proper range for your age and physical shape.  

Other than your clothes and shoes, I would  definitely recommend a heart rate monitor.  If you workout in a gym, the machines that have built-in monitors, and are often not working or are not accurate. The monitor provides guidance to you as to what your intensity should be, the workout zone you should train in, and it can provide a lot of useful information that should be of value to you. Cardiologists have done extensive research as to what the normal heart rate should be at it's maximum rate, and it varies according to age.  To do this they used healthy people, male and female as subjects for their research. There are some differences in rate according to who did the research but the usual formula most commonly used is 220 - your age = your maximum heart rate.  Now, if you're new to exercising, you should use a lower rate to workout in than what you will use as you progress in your fitness program.

An example could be a 45 year old female,  about 20 pounds overweight, without exercise experience.  To plug in the numbers: 220 - 45 = 175 beats/minute.  Being overweight without having exercised for a number of years, we'll use 50% of her maximum ( 175 X .50 = 87.50 or 88 rounded off.  This will become her training rate and she should have her average heart rate for her workout period to be approximately 88 beats/minute.  A good heart rate monitor should give you this information.  She should maintain this rate for a month or more, until she feels ready to reach a higher level of intensity in her workout.  This is a safe, scientific method that she can use and eventually go up to a 65% -85% of her maximum heart rate for her age. During her workout period this average HBR (heart beat rate) can include walking or running on a treadmill or using an elliptical trainer, or spinning on a bike.  She can spend about 10 minutes doing "cardio" and the balance of 45 -60 minutes using barbells, dumbbells, machines, doing calisthenics, push ups, squats, or whatever.  

Next week we will go more into the actual workout routine.