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Exercise questions

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Old 09-12-2007, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Exercise questions

There has been a lot of discussion about exercise and burning calories on different threads, and I have been thinking about it. Since my questions are an amalgamation of different threads, I thought I would just start a new one.

In response to a question by Cara, Meg mentioned that calories burned are more accurately determined based on heart rate than on a machine print-out. Having seen the variations in different machines when it felt like my effort was similar, I was not at all surprised to hear it. However, it made me wonder - I have been really excited to watch my resting heart rate go down as a result of my consistent exercise. Does this mean that because I'm getting in better shape, I'm burning fewer calories when I'm not exercising? Also on that same line, doesn't weight fit into the formula somewhere for how many calories are burned? The heart rate variable seems to make sense to me, but doesn't the heart have to work harder to push blood through all of the extra mass of a larger person? Thus, wouldn't a person at a higher weight burn more calories than a person at a lower weight, even when they had identical heart rates?

I also have heard a lot about a "fat burning" zone. On the stationary bike that I ride, it tells me whether I'm working out in the "fat burning" zone, the "aerobic" zone, the "endurance" zone, or the "training" zone. Since I think it's better to push myself as hard as I can, I spend most of my time in the "endurance" zone. Does this mean that I'm burning less fat than if I reduced my effort?

And, finally, I hate to be posting a cold weather exercise question this early in the season, but it's been really chilly here lately. I went on my walk / run last night, and it was about 30 degrees. I started out in a coat - and was freezing even then! - then as my body temperature went up, I opened the zipper, then took the coat off. At the end, my core temperature was warm, but my extremities, particularly my arms, were uncomfortably cold. Any thoughts on the best work-out gear for outside in the cold weather? I can't stand wearing sweats when I work out - I don't like to be uncomfortably warm, and it inevitably happens when I wear sweats.

Phew! Sorry so long. Any thoughts on any of these questions would be appreciated. I love that we have so much collective wisdom here!
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:14 PM   #2
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I'm not an exercise physiologist (and I don't play one on TV), but I do believe that the more you weigh, the more calories you burn for the same amount of exercise. That's why when a person's weight loss stalls, many suggest increasing the duration and/or intensity of a workout. You can help burn more calories at any weight if you (that's a general, all-purpose "you, " BTW ) start weight training to build muscle.

Shapefit says, "Studies have estimated that for each pound of muscle that you add to your body, you burn an additional 35 to 50 calories per day. So, an extra 10 pounds of muscle will burn approximately 350 to 500 calories a day, or an extra pound of fat every 7 to 10 days, without making any other changes. In another study, researchers found that regular weight training boosts basal metabolic rate by about 15%. This is because muscle is 'metabolically active ' and burns more calories than other body tissue even when you're not moving." I don't know the original source of this research, but it seems to be widely known because I've seen this information on various websites, in books, etc.

How about a dri-fit long-sleeved T-shirt (e.g., Underarmour) for outdoor workouts? If you get sweaty, the shirt should wick the moisture away and still keep you warm.
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Last edited by Sheila53 : 09-12-2007 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:39 PM   #3
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To me the difference in calories and heart rates, etc., is probably so minimal that I don't worry about it. I'm not saying it doesn't matter but so long as the scale is dropping and I'm finishing my workout in a dead sweat, I figure I'm doing ok.

As to your cold arms, many cyclists wear what are essentially leggings but made for the arms instead. You might check a bike shop or online and see if it's anything you might like.
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Old 09-13-2007, 02:55 AM   #4
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I've heard that yes your resting heart rate going down and having less mass both mean you burn less calories. Which is why if I say do Turbo Jam when I started out I may have burned 700 calories while I hear others say they only burn 200-300.

It kinda sucks, but it's a sign that your body doesn't have to work as hard to keep you alive, which means in turn you "should" live longer. You'll have more years to do those few extra minutes of exercise you didn't have to do when you only had to walk 20mins when 100+ to get enough exercise. Heh!

You might be better off asking in the exercise section though there are a few trainers there that can probably give you a more technical answer I'm just going by what I've read.
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Old 09-13-2007, 03:40 PM   #5
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Hey, everyone - thanks for the responses.

Sheila - Love the sense of humor. And I agree - it seems that most of the experts agree weight training is a good thing, and I am doing it three times a week, even if I don't really love it. And I'm going to look for the shirt you describe. It sounds like a good solution.

Robin - I know what you mean. Like you, I have tended to not want to get wrapped up in the minute details and just stick with knowing that the exercise I do is good for me. Still, it seems to me that if I'm going to be working out twice a day / six days a week for the rest of my life, it would make sense for me to figure out the most effective way to do it, and it seems as though lately I'm just getting bombarded with differing advice on duration and intensity. I just want the greatest return on my investment. Thanks also for the suggestion on apparel. I will look into it.

Ideal - You make a good point on the trade-off argument. I would never consider giving up the exercise so that I can burn a few extra calories with a higher resting heart rate, just as I would never consider deciding to stay fat for the extra calorie burn it gives me there. It is so worth the extra time each day to be healthier and happier and live productively for a longer time. I may try the exercise section, though. My questions are pretty technical, and it does make sense to ask them to a wider audience.
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