Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking

As you head out  the  door, you may want  to determine how fast you’re  going, how  far you’re  going,  how  many  calories you’re  using,  and  if you’re  walking hard (or  easy) enough. You should start a workout log so  you  can  monitor your  progress. Use the  Figure 4.2 as a template.

Determining Your Pace

To decide what  distances you  can  walk and  at what  speed, look back  to the assessments in chapter 1. Your  answers for the  walking  fitness assessment placed you in one of three groups: high, average, or low. Now cross-check that rating with your  result in the  walking health/fitness assessment, also in chapter  1, where you paced off a quick  mile. Your time  ranked you in one  of three classifications, from high (athletic walking)  to low (health walking).

A high rating in the first assessment will most likely correspond with a high rating in the walk, an average will match up with a moderate in the walk, and a low rating will match up with a low in the  walk. If your  results were  this  clear- cut, the following table shows you which walking program will be right for you (see table 4.2). But if the  two  didn’t  mesh so  neatly, use  your  rating for the 1-mile walk to guide you into a walking program. Your mile time demonstrated what  you can do when  you’re  putting one foot in front  of the  other.

Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking-FIRemember, however, this  is only a guide.  If you find yourself on the  border between levels, be conservative to start and follow the easier program. Gradually  explore the more intense workouts until you  find  what’s  right for  you for the  long  term. Feel free  to  mix and  match workouts if you  find yourself somewhere in the  middle. That’s the  beauty of five categories of workouts with a wide range of levels—there will be workouts to match every variation in personal fitness levels  and daily energy swings. Always listen to your  body. A complete and  accurate assessment also  includes internal feedback. If your ranking places you in the  athletic walker  category, but  you have  no desire to move  that fast, then move  back  to a more moderate program. The same goes for those ranked in the  moderate level; step back  to an easier program if that will fulfill your  walking wishes and  help  you achieve your  health goals.

Retake the 1-mile timed walk test every month or so to see how you’re  progressing and  to gain the  confidence to pump up your program.

Table 4.2    Choosing a Program Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking - t4-2

Assessing Your Heart Rate

Over the years, formulas to assess appropriate workout heart rates have come under incredible scrutiny. Recent research investigates the accuracy of simplistic formulas such as the one that follows. The bottom line is, no mathematical formula will provide an exact workout heart rate. They are all estimates, at best, a starting point for getting to know your  body  and  what  feels good  or not  so good.  I won’t take  sides in the  heart rate battle but  instead give you a couple of formulas. Plug your  data into both to see  how they  compare.

Simple Formula

If you’re  a man, subtract your  age from 220:

220 – age = maximum heart rate (max  HR)

Then  multiply your  chosen goal or intensity by the  result. For example, a 40-year-old man undertaking a moderate workout would  follow this  formula:

220 – 40 = 180 (max  HR) * 70% (lower end  of moderate range) = 126

180 * 79% (upper end  of moderate range) = 142

Therefore, his target heart rate range for moderate workouts is 126 to 142, with the  exact target depending on the  workout selected.

Women  use a similar formula, substituting 226 for 220:

226 – age = max HR

Then  multiply your  chosen goal or intensity by the  result. For example, a 30-year-old woman who intends to do a moderate workout would  follow this equation:

226 – 30 = 196 (max  HR) * 70% (lower end  of moderate range) = 137

196 * 79% (upper end  of moderate range) = 155

This woman’s target heart rate range for moderate workouts is 137 to 155, with the  exact target depending on the  workout selected.

Resting Heart Rate Formula

The formula using resting heart rate (RHR) is the same as the simple formula, except it subtracts your resting heart rate after you subtract your age and then adds it back  in later. This of course only works  if you know  your  resting heart rate. Guessing isn’t good  enough. Determine your  resting heart rate by taking it before you  get  out  of the  bed  in the  morning—before you’ve  been active or moving around much and  before you’ve  been jolted by the  screech of an alarm clock.  It can still be difficult to obtain, but give it a whirl. Highly trained athletes can have  resting rates in the  30s and  40s! The rest of the  population will be  in the  50s to 70s, depending on condition, drugs that lower  or  raise heart rate, and  disease.

If you’re  a man,  subtract your  age from  220 to get your  max HR, then sub- tract your  RHR:

220 – age = max HR – RHR = max HR II

So, for a 40-year-old man, the  formula would  work like this:

220 – 40 = 180 (max  HR) – 60 (RHR) = 120 (max  HR II)

120 * 70% (lower end  of moderate range) = 84 + 60 (RHR) = 144

120 * 79% (upper end  of moderate range) = 95 + 60 (RHR) = 155

Therefore, if this  man’s  RHR is 60, his target heart rate range for moderate workouts is 144 to 155, with the exact target depending on the workout selected. Note that these are a bit higher than those using  the  simple formula.

Women  use a similar formula, substituting 226 for 220:

226 – age = max HR – RHR = max HR II

So, for a 30-year-old woman, the  formula would  work like this:

226 – 30 = 196 (max  HR) – 60 (RHR) = 136 (max  HR II)

136 * 70% (lower end  of moderate range) = 95 + 60 (RHR) = 155

136 *79% (upper end  of moderate range) = 107 + 60 (RHR) = 167

Therefore, if this  woman’s RHR is 60, her  target heart rate range for moderate  workouts is 155 to 167, with  the  exact target depending on the  workout selected. Note that these are a bit higher than those using  the simple formula and also higher than the man’s because women’s heart rates are usually faster because they  are smaller.

Other Formulas

By no  means are  these the  only  ways  to  calculate a heart rate. If you  read popular magazines, you’ll see  variations popping up  all the  time.  They  can be fun to experiment with to see  how different they  really are.  In many  cases the  differences are  so minimal  that it comes down  to splitting hairs, which is something advanced athletes like to  do! The  previous two  formulas should give you enough of a range to start you off on the  right  foot.

Again, these calculations are only estimates; individuals vary greatly. As you gain experience, learn to pay more attention to how you feel—your perceived exertion—than to your  heart rate as you estimate how hard you’re  working.

Rating Your Perceived Exertion

As you  become accustomed to  walking  workouts, you’ll learn to  read your personal perceived exertion level, which is another way to measure how hard you’re  working  without stopping to take  a heart rate. Learning to gauge  your exertion and  to rate yourself requires listening to your  body.

Measuring your  rate of perceived exertion (RPE) can  help  you  gauge  how hard you’re  working. Generally, a person’s sense of effort corresponds well to objective measurements such as percentages of maximum heart rate. An RPE of 1 to 3 has  a corresponding heart rate of 55 to 69 percent of the  maximum. A score of 4 to  5 has  a corresponding heart rate of 70 to  79 percent of the maximum. A score of 6 to 8 has a corresponding heart rate of 80 to 94 percent of the  maximum. Once they  are  highly  trained, athletes can do short, intense workouts that push them to 10. The workouts in part II are  arranged by type and  progress in intensity as shown in table 4.3.

Speed is only one component that will affect your  RPE. For example, if you walk with your dog, push a stroller, or carry some groceries, your walking speed may be decreased, but  you will make  up for some of this  with  the  increased maneuvering difficulty, which will likely bump up your  RPE a notch or two.

Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking - t4-3

Table 4.3         Intensity Levels for Walking Workouts

Estimating Calories

As your  workouts progress in intensity or length, the  number of calories you use also goes up. Even if weight  loss  is one of your  fitness goals,  don’t overdo your  workouts with  the  goal to use  more calories more quickly. Overloading your  system too  soon, at  whatever level,  can  cause it to  break down.  With exercise, that means strains and pains that might  put  a stop not only to good exercise intentions but  also  to safe,  gradual weight  loss.  Heed  the  tortoise’s wisdom: Slow and  steady wins the  race.

The  number of calories you  use  in a workout is the  least of your  worries, really, because it’s usually not a huge amount. What counts is (1) teaching your system to use  fat more efficiently as a primary fuel all of the  time,  which will decrease your  body  fat; (2) building muscle in place of fat, because muscle uses more calories than fat even  at rest; and  (3) letting your  engine stay  on high  after  a workout, as  studies show  it does. That  means you’ll use  more calories just  sitting in your  car, for example, once you’re  more fit! And you’ll use  more calories in the  first minutes and  hours after a workout even  though you’re  watching TV.

Be warned, too, that calorie expenditures vary greatly from person to person based on your  individual metabolism, muscle mass, fat mass, and skill and fit- ness level. It also varies depending on the weather, terrain, and environment, as well as how hard you work during each workout. The estimates in table 4.4 are based on a 150-pound person. Add 15 percent to the totals for every 25 pounds over  150, and  subtract 15 percent from the  totals for every 25 pounds under But, remember, these are only estimates.

Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking - t4-4Table 4.4    Caloric Costs of Walking

Estimating Distances

Many cities have  trails that are  marked every quarter mile, half mile, or full mile. These make setting up a walking routine pretty easy  if you need to know or want  to know  distances versus time  on your  feet.  If there are  no marked areas, measure your  courses by drive  alongside your  sidewalk route (remember, this  is a very  rough estimate), or buy an inexpensive pedometer or even a GPS (global positioning system) to measure your  distance.

You can also do shorter workouts on a quarter-mile track. Once you get the feel of how fast you cover a certain distance, you can use time as your guide to measure distance. For example, walk 15 minutes one way, then 15 minutes back for a 2-mile round trip  at a 4-mile-per-hour pace. Note that four laps  around a track only in the inside lane is 1 mile; for every lane outside that, you’re adding a short distance. In the outside lane, four laps equal about 11⁄8 miles. Pay attention  to etiquette when  you use  a track. The inside two lanes are  reserved for serious runners and walkers doing specific timed workouts (intervals) geared toward higher performance. Unless  you need to time  every lap you walk, fit- ness walkers and  joggers belong in the  outside lanes.

One more way to gauge  your  pace and  distance is by counting how  many steps you take per minute. Use table 4.5 as a guide. Remember, this too is only an estimate because stride lengths vary.

Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking - t4-5Table 4.5    Estimating Your Pace With Steps per Minute

Counting 10,000 Steps

Perhaps you’ve heard about walking 10,000 steps a day to good health. Let  me  explain  briefly  what  that’s  all  about.  the  suggestion  to  shoot  for 10,000 steps is a great one because it addresses those looking for a little more movement as a part of their normal daily routine instead of a regular exercise program. the step count comes from an estimate that  1,000 steps is  about  1  mile,  so  if  you  can  attain  10,000  daily  steps,  you  cover  about   miles in a day. these steps usually will not raise your heart rate into moderate training zones.

to achieve a goal like this, you should not immediately go from zero movement, or zero steps, to 10,000 steps but instead progress gradually. You can count your steps by wearing a pedometer.

Although the  programs will improve your  health like a step- counting program will, I also advocate adding general activity to your everyday life by  taking  the  stairs or  parking farther from  your  destination, activities that will help  you reach the  10,000 steps goal. However, I also  believe that if you are interested in fitness walking, you are interested in more structure and more focus  on fitness training than counting steps provides. Of course, wearing a good  pedometer can help  you estimate workout distance. And it can be entertaining to see  how many  steps you normally take  during your  day.

Charting Your Progress

If you  look  at the  black-and-white numbers of time  and  distance, then walking is one  of many  activities in which progress can  be  measured precisely. Measurement and log keeping are vital parts of any fitness program. But mental progress is also  important.

The  programs  are founded on  two promises from you,  the walker:

  1. Honesty. You must always be true to yourself in assessing your personal ability, energy level, and needs, using only you as a yardstick, not a neighbor or friend. No workout is too slow, too short, or inadequate in any way. Every movement is a building block—accept it for what  it is.
  2. Diligence. Sticking to it is essential. Don’t give up, no matter what. Fitness takes time, whether you’re  going  from  a sedentary lifestyle to  working out  three days  a week  or  from  brisk  walking  to serious power walking. Your body  needs time to adjust, to build  muscle, to learn to use fat more efficiently, and  to increase lung and  heart strength.

What  is progress in a fitness program? Progress requires looking  over  the edge  into the unknown chasm of human potential and  depth of character, then jumping. It is a process of exploring what  your  body  can do, at whatever fitness level you choose, then trying it. It requires following  your  dream, step by step, until you can reach your  goal.

Making exercise a regular part of your  life takes at least six weeks  and up to six months to become a real habit. For a beginner, making  it to the  six-month mark  is true progress and  worthy of celebration. For more intermediate and advanced walkers, putting in additional effort to advance further is progress. Exercise will become an inspirational activity that will alter your  mood from bad  to good,  your  stress from  high  to nonexistent. When  I’m out  of sorts or tired, heading out for a workout is often the best medicine, even if I don’t really feel like it. I almost always come back  grateful that I pushed myself  out  the door. You will too.

Measurements must be made if you want  to compare your  workouts today with those from last week  or last year. Make  a copy  of the training log in figure 4.2. Use it to record your  workouts and  keep  track of your progress. Things to note in the comments section include the location of your workout, the  weather, and  how you felt. Evaluate your  progress three ways:

  1. Time. You can retake the 1-mile walking test at any time (preferably not more than once a month) and compare your  time with previous 1-mile walks. In your  log book,  observe how  long  it takes you  to cover certain distances. Are you moving faster? Note if your  workouts are becoming more challenging by getting longer. That’s progress, too.
  2. Feelings. You’ll notice a space in the sample log to jot down  a couple of words about how you felt. Were your  legs heavy or light? Were they  sore? Did they feel relaxed? Did the workout feel easy or as if the whole thing were uphill even  if it was  flat? Maybe  you’re  going  faster and  farther, but  it feels  easier. All this  relates to perceived exertion. Compare how you perceived your  body during similar workouts in different weeks, as well as your  rating of perceived exertion.
  3. Physical signs. Your body will let you know what’s going on—listen to it. Your resting heart rate is one concrete measure. Take it and record it often. As you gain fitness, your resting heart rate should go down. If it is suddenly higher than normal by 5 to 10 beats, that can signify overtraining, fatigue, stress, or an impending illness. Take heed and  take  a break.

If you’ve had your body fat tested (often available with calipers at clubs or using home versions that pinch your  body  fat at several specific sites), test it every month or two and note the changes. A scale is not a good  judge  because your body  weight  might  stay  the same or even  go up, even  though you lose fat and your  clothes fit more loosely with consistent exercise. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat. What  about your  blood tests? Your blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride levels  will likely go down.  No matter what  your  body  weight  does, this  is progress toward better health. Sleep pat- terns will also  improve. You’ll  fall asleep more quickly, rest more soundly, and  awaken more refreshed when  you exercise. You’ll also  have  more energy during the  day.

You’re done just  reading about walking  for now.  You’re ready to warm  up, cool  down,  and  dive  into  walking-specific stretching  and  strengthening exercises you can use before and  after  your  workouts.Using Training Formulas and Charts in Fitness Walking - f

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