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Exercise and Your Heart Rate Training Zones

In light of National Fitness Day, taking place on 22nd September 2021, we wanted to take a look at our heart rate training zones during exercise and what they actually mean.

Heart rate training zones are a method of improving your fitness, based on maintaining a heart rate goal for the duration of a workout. For example, if your goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you would aim for around 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). But how can these heart rate zones help the average exerciser (after all, as much as we all like to think we’re professional athletes after completing our first 5k run, we’re not!), and what should we be looking for?

What is a Heart Rate Training Zone?

The most common, and simplest formula to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So, a 35-year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 185 (220-35=185). However, using this formula does not account for your personal level of fitness as individual resting heart rate varies between people. Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re still and well-rested. Typically, resting heart rate ranges from 60-100 bpm, but the rate can vary based on age and fitness level.

There are then three heart rate training zones that you can aim to work within when you exercise, with each one having its own benefit.

Fat Burn

Intensity: Moderate – 50-69% of your maximum heart rate
Benefit: Builds aerobic endurance and teaches the body to burn fat as fuel
*Exercise example: walking, a leisurely swim, or a steady bike ride

Cardio

Intensity: Hard – 70-84% of your maximum heart rate
Benefit: Builds cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength
*Exercise example: running, fitness classes, strength training workout at the gym, most sports

Peak

Intensity: Vigorous – 85-100% of your maximum heart rate
Benefit: Increases performance speed
*Exercise example: HIIT, sprints, and other intensity interval exercises

*these are examples only and heart rate training zones will vary from person to person in each exercise mentioned.

Physical Activity and Our Health

Well, we all know that exercise is important. But many of us still don’t meet the recommended guidelines.

In fact, only 6 in 10 adults currently achieves the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. 24.6% of adults in England are currently classed as inactive, meaning over 11 million people are doing less than an average of 30 minutes activity a week.

Government guidelines state that being active reduces your change of type-2 diabetes by 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35%, joint and back pain by 25%, colon and breast cancers by 20% and can reduce the risk of mental illness by 30%.

But how is this relevant to the workplace?

Adults who spend 8 hours a day sitting (such as those in a desk/office job) are up to 60% more likely to die early from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. But this risk is reduced with regular, moderate physical activity.

Physical activity may also help to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, reducing your chances of getting a cold, flu, or other illnesses and therefore also decreasing workplace absenteeism

2019 research found that if the recommended physical activity guidelines were met globally, it could make employees up to 5 days more productive each year and boost the world economy by an estimated $100bn a year.

So, as individuals, it’s our own responsibility to ensure that we’re meeting the physical activity guidelines to ensure that we keep our risk of fatal diseases as low as possible. But could employers own some of this responsibility to boost workplace productivity and decrease absenteeism?

At Healthy Performance, we make this easy for organisations by hosting health promotion days that include physical activities such as company sports days, reaction walls, smoothie bikes, wii fit games and more.

To find out more please visit: https://www.healthyperformance.co.uk/workplace-wellness-challenges/

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