Last week we told you to ‘Take a Break’ and explained how it improved not only your health but your fitness performance.  Now let’s talk about moving and performance!  As an exercise physiologist, I think it is important for clients to understand there IS a difference between physical activity (moving, great for health) and exercise (structured and planned at a higher intensity, great for performance).  You see, fitness is about working the heart muscle.  It is also about adaptation and improving not only health but also fitness, i.e. performance.  You don’t need to be an athlete to want to perform at a higher level and improve your fitness.  Don’t like exercise?  No problem, what is the best exercise – one you will do.  That is true, just be sure you have the right goals in mind.  IF you are looking to become more fit, you need to challenge the heart to improve.  IF you are looking for improved health, it requires a totally different mindset and activity level.  Counting steps accumulated throughout the day is great.  Remember the F.I.T.T. document we provided earlier this month?  We began with guidelines to ‘move most days of the week’ (physical activity) and/or exercise 20 minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity.  The greater the intensity the less time needed to achieve your goals for weight, health OR fitness.  The example below shows the EXACT same route walking and running (note!  The run is first, explaining the higher heart rate at the beginning of the walk).

Predicted MHR:  180                           Predicted MHR:  180

50-70% HR Max                                   65-95% HR Max

90 – 126,  Zone 2 & 3                            117 – 172, Zone 4 & 5

Walk:  2 miles in 35 minutes             Run:  2 miles in 27 minutes

Calories Burned:  209                        Calories Burned:  244

Bottom line:  What’s the best exercise?

Depends on your goals and what you LIKE to do and therefore WILL do consistently!

Compute your predicted Max Heart Rate Max (MHR).   220 – age = MHR*

Health Benefits:

50-70% HR Max = Light Intensity

Fitness Benefits:

65-75% HR Max = Moderate Intensity 76-96% HR Max = Vigorous Intensity

Weight Loss:  Focus on burning 150-300 calories MOST days of the week AND combine with a healthy nutrition plan.

*This is a predicted number, those that are very fit for their age most likely need a more personalized method.

Reduce your blood pressure! 

As your heart becomes stronger, your heart can pump more blood with less work.    Your resting heart rate will decrease because it is pumping LESS to get the same amount of blood to your system.  Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg for the top number (systolic) and less than 80 mm Hg for the bottom number.  You may find both your diastolic and systolic numbers improve with exercise.  Reductions from 4 to 12 mm Hg diastolic and 3 to 6 mm Hg systolic have been shown in studies.  In addition, losing weight also improves your blood pressure, and exercise helps you lose weight.  Lastly, blood pressure is impacted by stress and exercise helps reduce stress!  In addition, losing weight also improves your blood pressure, and exercise helps you lose weight.   Following the FITT guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity can help you achieve your goals.  More benefits are seen with higher intensity.

Want to know how to apply the principles?  Watch VIDEO