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How to be prepared for a fitness resolution | Staci Lyons
By Staci Lyons
That time of year is once again upon us where the new year provides a fresh start in achieving those fitness goals that have proven to be so elusive in years past.
There is a group of people who, every year around this time, end up in either my office or the orthopedist’s office. These are the people who, in spite of doing no physical activity all spring, summer, or fall, run to their local gym and try to make up for their inactivity in their first two hour workout.
One can guess the common results: injury, overexertion, chest pain, and a baffled realization that perhaps we aren’t all as young as we once were.
As we get older the body naturally has a decrease in its aerobic performance because there is a decrease in oxygen intake and a decrease in the heart’s ability to pump blood. A well-conditioned athlete can stay in shape and continue to exercise but it gets more difficult with age.
Studies show that muscle strength peaks at 25 years old, plateaus at 35 to 40, and by 65 years old, there is a 25 percent loss of peak muscle strength. The takeaway being that our memory of what we can expect from our body can be extremely deceptive when it has been years since we were truly active. Starting slow will allow the body to provide the appropriate feedback needed to avoid injury.
The good news is that physical exercise is a perpetual war against aging! However, when starting to exercise, it is critical to get your body back into shape, and reteach it what to do. The best way to do this is to monitor your heart rate when you exercise. Many gym machines have heart rate monitors on them, or you can buy a heart rate monitor and strap it on before you exercise. You will be able to read your rate on a watch.
Here’s how to find what yours should be:
1. Subtract your age from 220 for a maximum heart rate. For example, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute, or BPM.
2. If you are just beginning to exercise again after a little break — or a long break! — begin training at 65 percent of your target heart rate. In our example, that would give us a rate of 117 BPM, which is 65 percent of 180.
3. As you get in better shape, gradually work to achieve a higher heart rate, until you are working at 85 percent of your maximum. In our example, this would be 153 BPM. When you can sustain this for a 30 minute exercise session, you are officially back in shape.
It’s recommended that one seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any exercise program and for good reason. Nothing is going to put your newly affirmed exercise goals on ice quicker than a heart attack.
In addition, there are medical fitness facilities in your community that can provide the plan that is needed for success.
Armed with the right information, your fitness goals are closer to being attained than you might think! Good luck!
Staci Lyons, PT, is the owner of Pinnacle Medical Wellness, which has locations in Covington and Maple Valley.