Those of you who visit this site each month know that aerobic exercise is an important part of your total exercise program. Some months I feel as if we are preaching to the choir, so many of you e-mail in to find out just how many calories you are burning as you go through your daily chores.
To help those of you who want to know, we are including a list of exercises and the energy you will burn up doing them in this article. We will also share facts such as how to figure out your heart rates. The benefits of exercise are manifold, and these too will be included. Finally, we will share information about my newest favorite aerobic exercise when there are no classes to join in-the elliptical machine, my partner in exercise this afternoon.
Cardio-respiratory fitness is the cornerstone of physical fitness. This type of exercise uses large muscles in a continuous manner that increases the heart rate and breathing for a set amount of time. So what is aerobic exercise? You can include the following: treadmills, rowers, stair climbers, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, kick boxing, roller blading, ice skating, swimming, canoeing and boating, jogging, racquetball, power walking, running, and dancing of energetic kinds. We know you can think of more, but these are just examples. Just read our exercise articles if you can’t.
First, decide on your goals and then start the selection process. Generally, experts suggest that you alternate between several exercises that will help you attain your goals to avoid injury and boredom. You can also alternate between high impact exercises like running, stair climbing, etc and low impact exercises like walking and aqua aerobics.
The next question to think about is how long should you do aerobic exercise? This will again depend on your goals, your physical condition and of course your medical condition, but 10 to 60 minutes sounds OK to start, or as a goal. If you are in good condition, at least 30 minutes, with 40 to 60 minutes suggested. But, and here’s a very good but, recent research has shown that as little as 10 minutes can improve your aerobic fitness as long as you do this exercise 2 to 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
So, park far away from the mall entrance, climb a few flights of stairs to your office or apartment and plan short aerobic times during the day. The optimal is about 30 minutes for most people in our busy society. Stick to your target of 20 to 30 minutes each time you exercise, and cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t forget to warm-up for the same time.
How do you know if you are training hard enough?
First you can check your heart rate. You can purchase a heart rate monitor to do this or you can take it manually with your index and middle fingers on the thumb side of your wrist or the groove of your neck near the jaw bone. To calculate your target heart rate, follow this simple formula:
220 – your age = your maximum heart rate (beats per minute)
Multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.70 to determine the lower end of the target zone. Multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.85 to determine the upper end of the target zone.
Here is an example: You are 30 years old:
Lower end of the target zone = (220 – 30) x 0.70 = 190 x 0.70 = 133
Upper end of the target zone = 190 x 0.85 = 162
Your target zone as a 30 year old is 133 to 162 heartbeats per minute.
Second is the “talk test.” You should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while you are exercising. We’ve all been with people who gasp for breath or can not finish a sentence and have to stop exercising. Make sure that’s not you. One way to make sure that you will be safe is to visit your physician before you begin an exercise program. Ask your care team and physician which sports you can begin with and how hard you should start, and how long to do aerobic workouts.
Thirdly, as you exercise, rate your exertion level. This is how hard the exercise feels to you. This is a 0-10 scale:
0: no exertion
0.5: very, very weak exertion
1: very weak
4: somewhat strong
7: very strong
10: very, very strong (Maximal, you are going all out)
We all know that even moderate activity has its benefits and you write in frequently for lists of exercises from moderate to vigorous. A moderate exercise is roughly equivalent to physical activity that uses about 150 calories of energy per day or 1000 per week. Some activities can be done at various levels of intensity so that suggested durations correspond to the expected intensity of effort.
Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes
Gardening for 30-45 minutes
Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minutes (20 minute mile)
Shooting baskets for 30 minutes
Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
Pushing a stroller 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes
Raking leaves for 30 minutes
Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile)
Water aerobics for 30 minutes
Swimming laps for 20 minutes
Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes
Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes
Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
Jumping rope for 15 minutes
Running 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile)
Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
Stair walking for 15 minutes
Finally, we want to share our new aerobic exercise with you. For the last year we have been using the elliptical machine at the gym. If we get there at certain busy times of the day, we actually have to wait to get on one and our gym has many of them. What I like about using one of these machines is that I can get a full cardiovascular workout in 20 to 30 minutes. It is a low impact exercise that is easy on the joints.
The machines simulate walking, stepping, cycling and skiing using an elliptical motion. If your treadmill is getting boring, this is a machine to try. Manufacturers claim that you can burn up to 720 calories or more per hour on the elliptical machine. I’ve never gone an hour on a machine. Thirty minutes is my limit and by that time I have used at least one towel to keep dry. I have burned my breakfast calories and then some, but mostly, I feel just plain good.
After my aerobics, I spend time doing stretches, sit-ups and cooling down. My day begins. My friends love this machine because it has helped in weight loss programs. We all walk laps to warm up first and keep an eye on each other to make sure no one is overdoing. It’s an easy machine to stay on especially if you are laughing with friends near by. My friends are at all levels of fitness and we all use the machine as you can control the difficulty.
You should be able to walk with ease and balance yourself with no problems. Remember, check out your fitness level with your doctor first. Take those glucose tablets with you just in case. Take your glucose monitor with you so you know your starting blood glucose level and begin exercise at a safe level. And, take off those sweaty socks soon after you are finished (See the article on going to the Podiatrist).
Why exercise? We answer this one every month, but here goes again, thanks to Georgia State University.
1. Risk of premature death
2. Risk of developing and/or dying from heart disease
3. Risk of developing hypertension
4. Risk of developing colon and breast cancer
5. Risk of developing diabetes
6. Your body weight or body fat
Exercise maintains or improves:
1. Healthy muscles, bones, and joints
2. Psychological well-being
3. Work, recreation, and sports performance
Exercise improves cardiovascular/cardio-respiratory function by:
1. Increasing maximal cardiac output
2. Increasing maximal stroke volume (amount of blood pumped each minute)
3. Increasing blood volume and the ability to carry oxygen
4. Reducing workload on the heart
1. Lowers the heart rate and blood pressure
2. Increases threshold for lactic acid accumulation
3. Increases HDL cholesterol
4. Decreases blood triglycerides
5. Improves glucose tolerance and reduces insulin resistance
That’s our pep talk for October. Please visit your doctor and get the thumbs up for your beginning an exercise program. Read our article in What’s Hot about feet. Make sure you know the rules about diabetes and exercise. We have them here on the site or get them from your health care team. But, most of all make the decision to get in shape and stay in shape. It will make your diabetes easier to control and improve your overall health.