It is important to understand what’s happening to your body when you exercise and to be able to measure your effort levels. As you exercise, the blood in your body moves towards the muscles that you are using. This is why it is said don’t train just after a meal. When you eat, blood goes into the stomach to aid digestion. If you exercise just after a meal, the blood leaves the stomach, redirecting to the muscles, which gives you indigestion.
Muscles need oxygen to produce energy required for exercise. The harder you work out, the more oxygen the muscles need. The heart beats quicker to transport the blood and your breathing rate increases. The heart is a muscle.
As you get fitter it gets stronger. If you train too hard, you will put a strain on the heart, it can’t cope with the demand. Likewise, if you train too easy, you will not challenge the body and your fitness will not improve. It is all about balance, knowing your body’s strengths and also its limitations.
Recognising when to stop is just as important as knowing when to push. Listen to your body, when the heart starts beating rapidly and you can feel your chest tightening as your breathing increases, you are training too hard.
If you feel like you could do the exercise all day and your breathing hasn’t changed much, then step it up until it does. This is where working to heart rate comes into play. It’s the perfect way to understand your effort levels in a safe and accurate way. There are plenty of devises now that will monitor your heart rate, unlike the old fashion way where you had to stop training, measure your pulse for 30 seconds and multiply the reading by 2.
Now all you have to do is glance at your wrist. When you work to heart rate you never want to exceed your maximum heart rate. The reason being is that working any higher will unnecessary stress the heart. This is calculated by 220 – your age. So, if you are 70 years old, your maximum heart rate (MHR) is 150 beats per minute. When exercising, your target heart rate zone is between 50-85 % of MHR. So, a 70-year-old should have a heart rate of between 75- 128 beats per minute when exercising.
John Molyneux, MolyFit Founder