Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Check your pulse
While warming up for my boxing class at Contender Boxing and Fitness, I watched Mike take some "non-fighters" through a cardio class. He was working them very hard and there was some sweat flowing in the gym! Obviously these guys were in good condition but I asked Mike if they monitor pulses. I said it would be a good idea for people to know how to do this. It's a standard that is easy, cheap and a good "barometer" to let the patient, client and the trainer know exactly how much this person is working his or her heart. Some people have a good will and don't want to give up even if the heart is working a little too much. For an untrained or nonconditioned new athlete, this could be a problem especially with the older than 40 crowd.
The American Heart Association suggests:
Age/ Recommended HR/ Max HR
20 years/ 100–170beats per minute/ 200 beats per minute
25 years/ 98–166 beats per minute/ 195 beats per minute
30 years/ 95–162 beats per minute/ 190 beats per minute
35 years/ 93–157 beats per minute/ 185 beats per minute
40 years/ 90–153 beats per minute/ 180 beats per minute
45 years/ 88–149 beats per minute/ 175 beats per minute
50 years/ 85–145 beats per minute/ 170 beats per minute
55 years/ 83–140 beats per minute/ 165 beats per minute
60 years/ 80–136 beats per minute/ 160 beats per minute
65 years/ 78–132 beats per minute/ 155 beats per minute
70 years/ 75–128 beats per minute/ 150 beats per minute
Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures above are averages, so use them as general guidelines.
I tell my patients to try and hit the lower number of the pulse range for 20 minutes of exercise checking every 5 minutes for about 12 trips to the gym. After that work up to add 20 beats per minute every 2 months (conservative) until you have reached the highest number of the recommended HR. If you can maintain this for 20 minutes 3 times a week, your heart will be fit. (assuming no other risks exist like breathing problems, seizures, diabetes, stroke...which should be evaluated and cleared first before starting an exercise program.)
I like the watches that check pulse but they are at a price. Personally, I use the Suunto T6. Others that are popular are the Polar, Citizen, Timex, Nike....it all depends on what other goodies you want with the pulse monitor, (distance, direction, gps, barometric pressure, software fitness analyzer). My goal is just conditioning, I'm 45 shooting for 160-170 for 20-30 minutes. This is over an above the recommended levels but I have also been cleared of any medical illness with stress testing, heart scans and cholesterol fractionation.
Good old fashioned finger pulse checks are cheapest, one work of caution is checking the neck pulses. There is a sensitive area in the neck called the carotid bulb. In some people, this could be very sensitive and cause a "vasovagal" reaction like that of a jiu jitsu lock. It may be a bigger artery to find but probably good to avoid in anyone over 40y/o.
Exercise Safe! Push it to the limit! Stay Healthy!