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How to Find Your Target Heart Rate How to Find Your Target Heart Rate


calculate maximal heart rate

Your target heart rate is a range that predicts how hard you work during exercise. Tracking your heart rate helps you find a challenging exercise intensity while also helping you to avoid pushing beyond a safe level.

Target heart rate zones are based on a percentage of the fastest rate that your heart can beat per minute. This is known as the maximal heart rate and can be calculated using the following formula:

maximal beats per minute (bpm) = 206.9 - (age in years x 0.67) *

Once you know your maximal heart rate, you can find your target heart rate range for exercise. For moderate-intensity exercise, aim for a heart rate that is 50 - 70% of your maximal heart rate. For vigorous exercise, aim for 70 - 85% of your maximal heart rate.

Below is an example equation for a 40 year old person exercising at moderate intensity.

206.9 - (40 x 0.67) = 180 bpm maximal heart rate

180 x 0.50 = 90 bpm (at 50% maximal heart rate)

180 x 0.70 = 126 bpm (at 70% maximal heart rate)

To exercise at a moderate intensity, this person should keep her heart rate between 90 and 126 bpm throughout the workout.

Exercise intensity and target heart rate vary from person to person. Beginners should exercise at the lower end of their target heart rate range and increase intensity slowly as the body becomes more fit. Aim for an intensity that meets your goals for calorie burning, challenges your current fitness state, and is safe and tolerable. The best intensity is one that is challenging enough to benefit your heart, lungs, muscles and bones, while not being so intense that you risk injury.

*Another popular equation is (220 - age in years), but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends this more accurate equation.

Top 3 Chest Exercises Top 3 Chest Exercises


top 3 chest exercises

The American Council on Exercise recently sponsored a study that identified which exercises most effectively work the large chest muscle known as the pectoralis major (or pecs). Incorporate these moves into your upper body workouts to maximize your exercise time.

Barbell Bench Press: This classic gym exercise activated the chest muscles the most out of the nine exercises that were tested. If you are new to strength training, don’t let this weight room exercise scare you. Beginners can start by using only the bar for weight until you get comfortable with proper form. Then you can begin to add 5-to-10 lb plates on each side as you get stronger.

Pec Deck Machine: The pec deck came in a close second to the bench press. While this is a popular machine found in most gyms, experts recommend practicing caution when using the pec deck. Many use bad form and lift too much weight, which can injure the shoulder joint. If you plan to use it, ask a trainer to help you set it up safely.

Bent-forward Cable Crossover: Not far behind the pec deck, the cable crossover is the third most effective chest exercise. Proper position and use of the cables can take a while to get used to. Start with a small amount of weight and ask a trainer to check your form as you perform this exercise.

These three exercises are very close in their level of muscle activation; therefore, experts reported that they can be used interchangeably to train the chest muscles. Six additional exercises were tested, but they were much less effective at working the pecs than the top three.

What exercise was the least effective? Standard push-ups. This doesn’t mean that you should stop doing them, but you will need to do almost twice as many push-ups to get the same result as you will from the top three exercises.

Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers


Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers

Giving a gift that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. Here are gift ideas for 7 types of fitness enthusiasts in your life!

The Newbie

This is the person who is just beginning to exercise. Everything is new and fresh, and they are still trying to find which activities they like best.

One week trials. Give this person the gift of variety. Put together a package of one week trials for new activities. Consider the beginner yoga class, Zumba or salsa dancing. This gift will help your loved one discover a new activity that will keep her exercising long term.

Beginner courses. The gift doesn’t have to be actual exercise. You can focus more on education. Many gyms and recreation centers offer workshops on how to strength train or on starting a running program. Get an idea of what he might like to learn and seek out an educational course to match it.

The Advocate

The advocate is the person who loves activity, and strives to support others. They raise money through training and racing and help with organizations that promote health.

Donate to the cause. Advocates often have fundraising campaigns established as they train for the next event. Donate the money you would spend on a gift to the fundraiser. Or select an organization that is close to her heart and donate in her honor.

Customized shirts or signs for upcoming races. Have shirts and signs printed with names, sayings, and organizations that relate to the advocate. Give these as a gift with a promise that you will be on the course wearing the shirts and holding the signs for support and to garner attention for the cause.

The Advanced

This is the person who has been there and done that when it comes to exercise, and they have the fitness to prove it.

A gift for the next level. Has this person’s passion for fitness turned into plans for a new job or hobby? If a fitness certification is being considered, study materials or exam registration fees can be a great gift idea.

Personal training sessions. Buy a personal training package with the toughest trainer you know. Advanced exercisers are always up for a new challenge!

The Friend Who Needs Convincing

This is the person that is interested in exercise, but hasn’t gotten started. They need direction and a little boost of motivation to take the first step.

Motivating reading materials. Magazines and books with tips, sample exercises, and information on total wellness are a good place to start. A subscription is a simple gift that can have this person looking forward to learning more as they get started.

Get a together gift. Get a gift that allows you to exercise together. Outdoor boot camp sessions, weekend yoga retreats, or beginner rock wall climbing lessons are all things that will get you moving.

The Yoga-lover

This is the person who loves a quiet, peaceful workout, but is driven and strives for balance in mental and physical health.

Passes to new studios. Every yoga student has her favorite type of practice and many studios cater to just one or two types. Check out other studios in the area and consider a gift pass to something this person hasn’t tried such as hot yoga or anti-gravity yoga.

Weekend workshops. Many yoga studios offer weekend workshops that educate on principles related to yoga. This can include mindfulness workshops, meditation retreats, and classes for stress reduction.

The Runner or Cyclist

The avid runner or cyclist will be looking for a challenge. They love fitness, but they prefer that all gifts relate to their favorite activity.

Laboratory analysis. Many universities and clinics have exercise science labs that offer sport-specific testing to the public. For a fee, researchers and clinicians will analyze factors such as gate, form, and fitness level which can help the exerciser improve performance.

Race registration. Lengthier, more challenging run and bike events can be expensive. If you know this person is hoping to compete, a gift to help out with the race registration may be a huge hit.

The Gym-rat

Some people hate the gym, but these folks live for it. Cardio machines, classes, free weights - these are the people who don’t mind exercising indoors.

Gym perks. Check out additional features offered by the gym. Consider a gift certificate for a massage, nutritional consultation, or fitness testing. If you know childcare is a barrier to regular workouts, consider a gift certificate that will help cover the cost. This can be childcare offered by the gym, or it might be a class (such as martial arts or swimming) that will keep the kids busy while mom exercises.

Functional fitness products. There are all types of fun products on the market that are designed to support the gym-goers lifestyle. Check out new gym bags, quick-drying towels for the locker rooms, and beauty products designed for active lifestyles. Have fun pulling this one together and fill a new gym bag with unique items.

4 Reasons to Keep Exercising During the Holidays4 Reasons to Keep Exercising During the Holidays


winter exercise

During the holidays, it’s tempting to throw your workouts by the wayside with the promise to start again after the New Year. Research shows that when regular exercise stops, de-training occurs within a few weeks. It's better to shift to maintenance workouts than to stop altogether and lose what you've worked so hard to gain. Even if you need to reduce the time of each session or cut back one workout a week, maintaining the momentum of your regular exercise routine is much easier than stopping and trying to re-establish it again later.

Exercise can also be a valuable tool to get you through the challenges of the holiday season. Here are 4 reasons why you should give yourself the gift of regular exercise.

Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a high-risk time for gaining weight. Exercise can combat this risk by burning calories, and by maintaining muscle mass which sustains metabolic rate.

Holiday Stress

Shopping, increased food preparation, frequent visitors, and managing finances all lead to increased stress. Exercise promotes the release of hormones that improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. See 4 Ways Exercise Reduces Stress and Improves Mood.

Seasonal Depression

As we approach the winter solstice, the season chips away at our daylight hours. For many people, this can lead to varying degrees of seasonal depression. Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and elevate mood. Performing an outdoor workout during the daylight hours provides additional benefits by increasing sunlight exposure.

Exercise Provides Structure

One of the main culprits associated with stress, depression, and weight gain is a reduction in structure within daily routines. Maintaining your exercise schedule provides structure to your day. The routine will help you stay on track with food intake, aid in maintenance of sleep schedules, and provide a framework so you can prioritize the demands of the holiday season.

4 Things to Know About Stretching and Flexibility 4 Things to Know About Stretching and Flexibility


Know About Stretching and Flexibility

As we age, we lose flexibility, which limits our range of motion and impairs our ability to perform physical activities. Regular stretching as part of an overall fitness program can help you offset these changes.

Stretching Benefits

Healthy range of motion in the joints makes moving your body easier, and regular stretching helps to increase this range of motion. Stretching can improve balance and posture, especially when combined with resistance training. According to the American Council on Exercise, stretching also promotes mental and physical relaxation.

Stretching Myths

Along with the many known benefits of stretching, there are a few suggested benefits that fail to hold scientific support. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports that there is no consistent link between stretching and reducing injuries, reducing lower back pain, or reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (pain or stiffness felt 24-72 hours after strenuous exercise).

Stretching Tips

Although there are more complex methods, simple static stretches are recommended for individuals seeking general improvements in flexibility. Static stretching involves slowly stretching and lengthening the muscle to a point of tension, holding the stretch, and then relaxing and returning to the starting position. The ACSM suggests several guidelines to gain the greatest benefit from your stretching.

  • Adults should aim to stretch all major muscle groups 2 to 3 times per week. Extend into the stretch only to the point of tightness. You should feel slight discomfort, but not pain.
  • Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Perform each stretch 2 to 3 times with the goal of 60 seconds total stretching time for each muscle group.
  • Perform static stretches only after your muscles are warm. For example, after your warm up or at the end of your workout.

Making Time for Stretching

Preserving flexibility through stretching is as important to overall fitness as cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. If you find it difficult to reserve time just for stretching, consider incorporating flexibility exercise into your regular workouts through yoga, Pilates, or martial arts. If you are pressed for time, you may be better off ending your strength training or cardio session 5 minutes early and incorporating a flexibility component. The result will be a more balanced approach to fitness and better overall health as you age.

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