Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Are you getting the maximum from your exercise routine?

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Sunset in Galilee


These are the type of summer days I wish would never end.  Although it’s irrelevant to this post, I couldn’t resist posting these pictures from our Father’s Day trek to one of Jeff’s favorite haunts,  East Matunuck Beach in Rhode Island. Onward to today’s topic!







In previous posts, I wrote about the Federal Government’s guidelines for exercise for adults from 2008, which still stands today- Adults should complete 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Either prolonged sessions or multiple, shorter workouts are O.K., and the form is never specified, as long as it is aerobic.  When I ask my clients to rate how hard they’re working out, either during the week or in my studio,  I often get the response – “moderate to hard”.  But upon a closer look, it may become clear that one’s perception doesn’t always jibe with one’s physiology. A study out this week attempts to reconcile one’s perception of moderate exercise with the science that determines what is actually regarded as moderate.  The results?-  you guessed it- people’s perception of their workout was that it was harder than their vital signs suggested. Check out this article to read about the study.

Many of us have been using the formula of 220 minus your age x 65-85% to determine your target heart rate. I frequently get asked- “What happens if I exceed this number? ” The answer is  that you’ll almost always get a more effective workout, because that number is artificially low. A more accurate read would be to use the following formula:  211 minus 64% of your age – see this website for more information-

Don’t be daunted by the metric system- multiply your height in inches by 2.5 to get centimeters, and divide your weight by 2.2 to get how many kilograms you weigh.

Your target heart rate is now much higher than you’re used to thinking, yes?  You can also use the subjective perceived level of exertion formula to assess how hard you’re working. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being comparable to almost sleeping, 5 being taking a stroll, and 10 being unsustainable, all-out exercise, you should be between a 7-8- unable to talk beyond one word at a time, exerting yourself, but able to sustain it for 30-60 seconds.

If you’re currently walking 1 mile in 15 minutes, try to walk it in 14 minutes- start by speeding up your workout of choice incrementally, so you don’t shock your system.

The weekend warrior thing used to work much better a few years ago- now the goal is to work out for as LONG as we can (into our 90’s) not as hard as we can each time – there is a happy middle ground. So, I encourage you to jumpstart your metabolism by working harder than you realize you could- your cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic systems will thank you!

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