WHAT YOU NEED FOR AN AEROBIC SUCCESS STORY
What you need for an aerobic success story, is not something you can buy or borrow. Aerobic success is all up to YOU! You choose the activity, you choose the duration, you choose the frequency and you will reap the BENEFITS!
LET’S DEFINE AEROBIC SUCCESS
The first thing to know about your aerobic success story, is that it is different for every person and unique to you. The same goes for intensity and effort. What is really hard for me, may be really easy for you! When I think I am working at maximum effort, you may think I am not trying very hard.
Your aerobic success is DEFINED by YOU! You can measure this simply by noting how you feel and/or you can use your heart rate to quantify your effort and success. I am going to discuss both.
Subjective assessment is based on your feelings. Do you feel like you are walking faster and getting less short of breath? Is it easier to go up a hill now, as compared to when you started. If the answer is YES, you have been successful.
Objective assessment is based on facts. Use the heart rate equation and measure your heart rate when you begin your aerobic movement, during movement (if you want to), after you are finished and as you are cooling down.
THE HEART RATE FORMULA
Learning to take your own heart rate to measure objective aerobic success, is necessary. Most of you have seen a nurse take a pulse at the radial artery, in the wrist area. If you can easily find it, great. If not, the jugular artery in your neck is easy to find. Take 2 fingers and slide them down from the right side of your mouth, to your neck under your chin. You will feel your heart beat there. Time your rate for 15-30 seconds (1 minute is not suggested, as the longer you count, the less accurate you will be), start at ZERO! When you are done, multiply x 4 for 15 seconds and x 2 for 30 seconds and you will know your baseline heart rate. This can be done sitting, to get a baseline and then standing before you start your aerobic work.
Figure out your maximum heart rate and be careful not to exceed it. Calculate your maximum heart rate this way – Subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the average maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise. The Mayo Clinic has a great piece on exercise intensity. You can find it here. Also important, is how quickly your heart rate comes back to normal after aerobic movement. It is important, at least for the first while, to measure your rate at minute intervals, as you cool off, to be sure your heart rate is returning to normal.
CHOOSE YOUR MOVEMENT
Your aerobic success story starts with doing what feels good to you. Treadmills add cost to walking. Dancing, increases your heart rate, without expense and is great therapy. Steps provide aerobic exercise, do you have a set in your house? Joggers often have knee trouble, runners, even more so. Buy a hula-hoop and get started! We are not talking about training to run a marathon, we are talking about movement that will increase your aerobic capacity; therefore, increase your health! Know How Fit You Are – Simple Self-Assessment, discusses aerobic capacity. Ask yourself this question – can I walk up two sets of stairs without becoming winded and ending up huffing and puffing? If the answer is no, lung capacity can be improved and ANY and ALL improvement, will go a long way towards improved health!
I am going to discuss building a walking practice. If you own good shoes to walk in, this is cost free.
I suggest you start a walking practice by first deciding how long you thing you can walk now, easily. If that is 15 minutes, start walking for 15 minutes at a time. Walk away from home for 7.5 minutes and return. For objective assessment of your practice, take your heart rate before you start and when you return, at very least. YOU are the trainer, so when you feel ready to walk more, walk more. Do not add more than 5 to 10 minutes on at a time, as you do not want to find yourself exhausted and far away from home. When ready, change your walking route to add in some hills or a staircase, to challenge your heart and lungs. Over time, your heart rate and respiratory capacity will improve, EVEN AT REST!
Walk through a park to enjoy the greenery, hike a forest or walk the beach if you live by water. Staying close by works or drive to a starting point and walk from there. My new walking buddy introduced me to the wetlands in a park nearby, where seeing the goslings and turtles was an unexpected bonus. This is YOUR practice and if a treadmill in your house is the choice, that is what you do! If baseline mobility is problematic, start by walking around your house and then add only 2.5 minutes away from your home and 2.5 minutes back.
Aerobic movement improves cardiovascular conditioning. This in turn decreases risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, increases good cholesterol, improves lung function, helps to lower blood sugar, decreases resting heart rate AND most importantly makes you feel better. When you feel better, you mental health improves as well!
This is your aerobic success story. The increase in movement leads to an increase in mood and well being. Knowing you are taking care of yourself leads to improved self-esteem and confidence. Taking care of YOU, leads to better ability to take care of those around you. The energy produced by using energy, is AMAZING. You will find that you not only feel better, but you function better. Taking the time to increase aerobic capacity will GIVE YOU TIME BACK, as you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
In my opinion, if I was able to do only ONE thing to improve my health, starting an aerobic movement practice WOULD BE IT!
This article was written for reference purposes and is part of a 4-part series. Please speak to your Primary Care Provider about health and a new movement practice!