How Hard Should I Be Working?

By Canadian Diabetes Care Guide posted in Physical Activity
Updated

Mature older people lifting weights

A very simple yet effective way to tell if you’re overexhausting yourself is the Talk Test. Quite simply, if during exercise you are breathing so heavily that you can’t talk you are pushing your body too much.
 
Another common way of measuring how hard you are working is to use your heart rate as an indicator. Everyone has a different maximum heart rate but a good overall average has been calculated at 220 beats per minute.
 
There is a range where we do the most amount of good with the least amount of stress called the Target Heart Range or (THR). This range changes as you get older. The desirable range has been estimated to be between 65% and 85% of the maximum heart rate. (We adjust for age by subtracting your age from the maximum heart rate of 220 and applying the 65% and 85% ranges) The following chart shows the approximate target heart rate (THR) for various age groups.

TARGET HEART RATE

AGE
20
30
40
45
50
55
60
65
70
65%
130
124
117
114
111
107
104
101
98
85%
170
162
153
149
145
140
136
132
128

To help you keep within your target heart range, just before your cool down walk, simply take your pulse for a 10 second period and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. For example, if you count 20 beats in 10 seconds your heart rate is 120 beats per minute. It’s important to keep moving while you are counting. If you are plus or minus two beats in a 10 second count don’t worry because there is always some inaccuracy built into taking your pulse, especially while still moving. Your pulse can be found on the inside of the wrist on the same side as the thumb.

SAMPLE WALKING PROGRAM
Setting a realistic goal is a really good way to get you on the active lifestyle bandwagon. It’s also a good idea to set new goals from time to time to keep progressing along the way! Here is a walking program that starts slowly and gradually increases.

This program is based on walking 4 times per week to start. Begin with a 5 minute warm-up period of stretching/flexibility exercises and walking slowly to start. Then pick up the pace and walk briskly. Finish it off with a cool down by walking slowly for 5 minutes.

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WEEK 1
4 times per week
5 minute warm-up period – stretch & start walking at a slow pace
5 minutes – pick up the pace so you are walking at a brisk pace
5 minute cool down – walk at a slow pace
Total Exercise Time : 15 minutes

WEEK 2
4 times per week
5 minute warm-up period – stretch & start walking at a slow pace
7 minutes – pick up the pace so you are walking at a brisk pace
5 minute cool down – walk at a slow pace
Total Exercise Time : 17 minutes

WEEKS 3 – 12
4 times per week
5 minute warm-up period – stretch & start walking at a slow pace
9 minutes – pick up the pace so you are walking at a brisk pace
5 minute cool down – walk at a slow pace
Total Exercise Time : 19 minutes

Continue this basic pattern for 12 weeks, increasing the brisk walking by 2 minutes each week up to a maximum of 30 minutes of brisk walking by the twelfth week.

By this time you might be looking for a further challenge – great! Feel free to add some other forms of exercise that you can comfortably enjoy – go for a swim or maybe try a group class. Remember, it’s a good idea to check your pulse periodically to make sure that you are within your target heart range.

 

<<< How Do I Get Started? Tip – Use a Pedometer for Motivation >>>

 

About the Author

The Canadian Diabetes Care Guide's articles are written by Diabetes Professionals for people with diabetes. We provide information about diabetes, diabetes health care providers, complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes and tools to manage their condition. Our mission is to help people with diabetes stay healthy and successfully manage their diabetes.