Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heart Right

One of the most common questions people ask about cardiovascular workouts is, "How hard should I be working?" There are several ways one can figure this out.

1. Age-predicted Target Heart Rate
220-age=HRmax (maximal heart rate)
Workout range: 55 - 90% HRmax
Example: Age 42
220-42 = 178
178 x .55 = 98
178 x .90 = 160
Workout range: 98-160
Wearing a heart rate monitor makes this much easier than stopping to check your heart rate.
Also, this is only an estimate. Everyone is different, so this isn't exact. For instance, I am 52 years old. My age-predicted maximum heart rate is 168 with my workout range 100 - 151. Yesterday I went running and my average HR was 155 and my maximum was 170 after running up a hill. The true way to find out your maximum HR is a Maximal Exercise Test (more commonly known as a stress test). For most healthy people, this isn't an option, as they are expensive and usually only done if you have symptoms of heart problems.

2. Rating of Perceived Exertion (6-20 scale)
6 No exertion at all
8 Extremely light
10 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion

The goal with RPE is to work at a level that feels "somewhat hard" to "hard", or at a level of 13-16. The advantage to this method is that you don't have to keep checking your heart rate. You just go by how you feel.

3. Talk Method
I often tell my patients to work at a level where they can talk "haltingly". If they can carry on a conversation as if they are standing still, they need to work a little harder. On the other hand, if they are so out of breath that they can't talk at all, they need to slow down. (This rarely happens with my patients. The majority of them come to socialize, which is important, too.)

Wearing a heart rate monitor is a fun way to see how hard you are working. Polar is probably the most popular brand. Depending on the model, you can monitor your HR (with a readout at the end of your maximum HR and average HR), workout time, calories burned, and much more.Polar_Heart_Rate_Monitor.jpg

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going Green

Seeing as it's Earth Day, I thought I'd share my recipe for asparagus since we're all thinking "green" today. You can do this in the oven, but in the summer, I make it easy and use the grill.
I fold tin foil into a rectangle (I double it to make it a little sturdier). I clean the asparagus and snap off the ends. I drizzle a little olive oil and salt on it and grill until it's crisp-tender. (The time to cook varies due to the diameter of the asparagus.) When done, remove from heat, sprinkle with a little feta cheese and serve.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Enjoyable Exercise

I have to admit, exercise is not always fun. I worked out at 4:30 this morning, and in reality, I would rather have been sleeping. On the other hand, yesterday we went for a hike with some friends out to Lake Michigan. It wasn't a true "workout", but I did get my heartrate up for short spurts with some of the hills we encountered.
The scenery was beautiful and the fresh air was invigorating.
Exercise doesn't always have to be so structured. Every now and then, throw something different into the mix. Life is short, so have fun.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

My earliest memory of a hair appliance was a hair dryer my mom had. It had a big cap (like a shower cap) that you put on your head (over your roller or pin curl set hair). It had a hose connected to it, that also connected to a box-like appliance, which blew hot air through the hose into the cap. We're talking the early to mid sixties here.In 7th or 8th grade, I would sleep with 2-3 inch rollers in my hair. I'm not quite sure how I got any rest, but if you wanted to look good, you had to pay the price. About that time came the advent of electric rollers. My world would never be the same. I used those throughout high school.

After I had my senior pictures taken, I got my haircut (about 12-14 inches cut off) and entered the world of curling irons. This was my M.O. until 1993. That year I had a makeover. My new hair stylist showed me how to blow dry my hair with a round brush and I have been free of any appliances (with the exception of a blow dryer) ever since. It has been so nice to not have to pack anything besides products for my hair.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. My daughter was home last weekend and she gently planted the seed that maybe I should try a flat iron. "Why?" I asked. Little did I know that she had a talk with my hair stylist, Stefanie (also my niece). When I went in for my haircut on Tuesday, Stef, not so gently, told me I needed to start using a flatiron. We had an inservice, she gave me her old iron, and here I am, imprisoned again. I have used it two times now and it is getting a bit easier. So, here is the result. I'm still in the learning process, but so far I'm liking the results.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Joys of Easter

Ahh....the post holiday weight gain. Our cardiac rehab patients are asked to weigh in once a week. We usually ask them on Monday. I would estimate that 90% of our patients gained a couple of pounds over the weekend. And I would wager that of those who gained weight, 90% of them had ham on Easter Sunday. I know we had ham. As a result, I didn't get on the scale Monday morning. (Why start the week on a downer?) So what's the relationship between ham and weight gain? Sodium. Sodium causes the body to retain fluid. Anyone with hypertension needs to reduce their sodium intake to less than 2000 mg. a day. As we age, our blood vessels become more stiff and our blood pressure tends to rise. I've always had low blood pressure and now it's creeping higher. So be sure to keep an eye on it and start reading food labels for sodium content. You'll be amazed at how much salt you're getting in your diet without even using the salt shaker.