Exercise should feel good, not hurt!
As a fitness instructor it is a real treat to be a participant in someone else’s fitness class; I can just relax and let someone else tell me what to do.
The other day I decided to pamper myself by taking a Spinning class. What I found interesting was my heart rate. Being more aware of the intensity levels of my heart rate, I discovered that fewer than 10 minutes into the class, my heart rate was elevated above 90% of my target heart rate. I had to consciously take my intensity level down.
What many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to ‘kick your butt’ in order to receive benefits from exercise.
Rate of Perceived Exertion Chart
At Green Mountain, our preferred method of checking intensity level is the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The RPE is used to rate perceived intensity.
Ideally, you want to exercise in a range of 5 to 7.5.
Studies have shown that the numbers usually correlate to the percentage of our maximum heart rate.
For example, if I gauge my intensity at 5, then I am probably at 50% of my maximum heart rate. If I gauge it at 7, then I am probably at 70% of my maximum heart rate.
Why Your Level of Intensity/Heart Rate Is Important
Why would I want to keep my intensity/heart rate under 80% for most of my workouts?
Well, research has shown that heart rate recovery rates are slower (which means it takes longer for your heart rate to return to normal) when you work out too hard. Excessive intensity can also lead to over training which can deplete your immune system and can cause sleeplessness. You are also more likely to have sore muscles and achy joints.
It’s important to be mindful that more of a good thing is not necessarily better.
Ideally, letting go of an all or nothing mind-set, knowing that something is better than nothing, and listening to the messages your body is sending you will enable you to connect with YOUR body’s cues around intensity and duration to optimize the joy of – not dread of – movement.