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New to Exercise and Need Help

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Old 02-05-2007, 02:49 PM   #1
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Hi everyone - I've been a lurker and have found everyone's comments so extremely helpful. I recently joined a gym and am really putting a lot into it. I'm 43 years old, have struggled with my weight my entire life. I have been so motivated........until today. Well, I'm really motivated, but just feeling a little discouraged and am hoping that someone from this board can help me. Today I was at the gym - I've been going every day at lunch and am finding that I really enjoy it - I wished I would have done this a long time ago. Anyway, no matter what I do, whether it be the eliptical machine, treadmill, bike, etc., my heart rate will never go over 110. It is because I am on a medication that slows my heart down - it's actually a blood pressure pill. Anyway, the trainer came over to see how I was doing and he said that I was going to have to get my heart rate up to about 130 for the exercise to do me any good. So I worked harder, and harder and still couldn't get it over 110. He basically said that I'm getting the same benefit from laying on a couch. I wasn't happy. Is that true? I'm not sure what to do to get it any higher - I work really hard and work up a good sweat and find it hard to believe that I'm not getting any benefit. I'd appreciate any feedback ya'll can give - I really want to get in better shape. Thanks!
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:07 PM   #2
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First a question - was the HRM on the machine or one that you were wearing? Those machine ones are sometimes pretty crappy. I wouldn't trust any HRM but mine. Or I would try a few machines of different types to see if they all agree. *edited to say -duh...you said you tried a buncha machines....*

I disagree that you aren't doing yourself any good even if the heart rate reading was accurate. IMHO if you were working hard enuf to sweat you are doing good things.

I'm actually curious to see if anyone else has an answer to if the meds are keeping your heart rate down does it really affect the calories burned? Are your muscles not still working?

I say WAY TO GO for working out!!
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:36 PM   #3
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The trainer was dead wrong! You can't go by standard heart rate guides when you're on BP meds. Just like you figured out, they'll keep your heart rate artifically low. He's a moron, if you'll pardon my French.

Since you can't go by heart rate, there are a couple of ways to judge how hard you're working - that is, your intensity. First is Perceived Exertion. All that means is on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the hardest you could possibly ever go, like an all-out sprint) how hard do you feel like you're working?

Here are some descriptions from About.com:

Level 1: I'm watching TV and eating bon bons
Level 2: I'm comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long
Level 3: I'm still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder
Level 4: I'm sweating a little, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly
Level 5: I'm just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily
Level 6: I can still talk, but am slightly breathless
Level 7: I can still talk, but I don't really want to. I'm sweating like a pig
Level 8: I can grunt in response to your questions and can only keep this pace for a short time period
Level 9: I am probably going to die
Level 10: I am dead

You want to be somewhere in the 5 - 7 range most of the time, maybe occasionally going into 8.

Second is the Talk Test. The talk test method of measuring intensity is simple. If you're at a light intensity level, you should be able to sing while doing the activity. When you're at a moderate intensity level, you should be able to talk and carry on a conversation comfortably. If you can only speak in sentence fragments or not at all, that's high intensity. You'll want to be in the moderate intensity range.

You're doing fantastically well and should be very proud of yourself. Please don't listen to that idiot trainer ... and if he says anything else to you, tell him that you talked to your own personal trainer and she said you're doing it perfectly!!
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:47 PM   #4
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Meg you amaze me. That's all.
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:52 PM   #5
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Thanks a bunch! I knew this was the place to go. I just couldn't imagine that all that work was for nothing!

First off....yes the HRM is on the machines, but it does tend to stay pretty consistent with the other machines.

I'm just glad I found someone that knows what they are talking about. I would say that I generally work in the 6-7 range - as an example - today, I definitely could barely talk and I had really worked up a good sweat.

So in order to burn fat and calories, do I need to keep it going at that rate for a certain amount of time?

I'm really having a good time doing this - I can already tell a difference in my stamina - but I really need a lot of improvement on my strength. In time, I guess.

Thanks again this can be so confusing at times.
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:58 PM   #6
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You're burning fat and calories every minute you're exercising and it all adds up. If you can work at the level 6 -7 for 30 minutes, that's perfect. If you're not quite up to a half hour yet, just work on adding an extra minute every few days or so.

As for strength, have you tried any of the machines or free weights yet? That's an important part of an exercise program too (right, Chick in the Hat? )
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Old 02-05-2007, 07:42 PM   #7
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I am on beta blockers, a blood pressure pill. Yes, it messes up your heart rate when you do cardio. I got around that by learning the Borg rate of perceived exertion, much as Meg described. Because beta blockers slow your heart rate, my perceived rate of exertion is probably lower than others, but it has worked for me. I have been able to increase my endurance, speed and intensity very nicely. And I do HIIT (sprinting intervals), when I do feel like I am going to die.
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