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Woman looking at her phone while on a treadmill

How to Measure Impact of Your Cardio Workout?

One of the main questions people often ask when starting any fitness program is, “What is the best cardio workout for beginners?” Cardio is vast and cardio alone will have limited benefits and results. It is best done with a healthy food selection filled with good fats and protein and vegetables and a weight training program.

What is Cardio?

Cardio is really any exercise that raises and elevates your heart rate allowing your heart to pump more blood and oxygen through your veins. The blog and oxygen moves throughout your muscles and other areas that require it. One of the biggest muscles often neglected is the heart. It requires exercise just as much as every other muscle in the body. Like any muscle, the heart adapts and increases in strength and endurance.

When you first start out doing cardio, it may feel like you can’t breath and your insides are on fire. This was my experience when I first started cardio, but the more I did it, the more my heart adapted. My goal was to drop as much body fat as I could. Not much of a goal, but in order to achieve it, I did cardio at least 3 times a week.

My routine consisted of running and walking for 15 minutes. As I gradually built up my endurance, I started to run until I could no longer. To rest, I walked to get my breath back so I could run again. At the beginning, I could only run for 2 to 4 minutes at a time. I eventually got up to 60 minutes without stopping.

Different Types of Cardio

Some examples of cardio would be:

  • Walking briskly (Could burn around 300-400 Calories Per Hour)
  • Running (Could burn Around 600 Calories Per Hour) …
  • Cycling (Could burn Around 600 Calories Per Hour) …
  • Rowing (Could burn Around 840 Calories Per Hour) …
  • Swimming (Could burn Around 600 Calories Per Hour) …
  • Jumping Rope (Could burn Over 1000 Calories Per Hour)

How to Calculate Your Maximum Working Heart Rate

One of the things that kept me motivated was a heart rate monitor with a activity tracking. It allowed me to watch my heart rate and calories burned. Heart rates are calculated as a percentage, such as maximum heart rate (MHR). Heart rate is measured in beats per minute (bpm). Maximum heart rate is an estimate of how fast your heart is beating when you are at your maximum effort. Your maximum heart rate (MHR) is calculated by the following two formulas:

220 – your age.

For example, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220-40 = 180 beats per minute (BPM).

Or the Karvonen Formula which is 206.9 – 0.67 x age) = Max HR = 180.1

TIt is recommended not to exceed your MHR, especially for beginners.

How to Calculate Resting Heart Rate with an Activity Watch

The resting heart rate is a person’s heart rate at rest. It will best measured in the morning or when you’re relaxed. An average person’s resting heart rate could range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. The resting heart rate usually rises with age and fitness levels, it’s generally lower in people with high fitness levels. If you have a heart rate monitor, follow the following steps. Put on the heart rate sensor, lie down on your back and relax.

  • After about 1 minute, start a training session on your heart rate monitor watch choose any sport profile.
  • Lie still and breathe calmly for 3–5 minutes. Don’t look at the monitor.
  • Stop the training session on your watch. Check the summary for your average heart rate and the value of your lowest heart rate. Mark the value of the lowest heart rate in your training diary and update it to your physical setting
  • Repeat the test every 1 to 3 weeks following the original setting as closely as possible.

How to Calculate Resting Heart Rate by Hand.

  • Find your pulse with your fingers, not your thumb, while lying in bed before you get up in the morning.
  • Count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by four, or 30 seconds and multiply by two. For example, 17 beats for 15 seconds 17 x 4 = 68 beats per minute.
  • 68 beats per minute is your resting heart rate.
  • It is recommended that you count the beats for a whole minute.
  • Record your heart rate for five days.

As mentioned, there are many formulas that you can use, but I found the Karvonen Formula to be very accurate.

Max HR = 180.1
Resting HR = 68 Max HR – Resting HR
HR Reserve or minimum heart rate = 112.1

Now that you have your minimum heart rate and maximum heart rate, you can work out your targeted heart rate. Target heart rate zones are different levels of intensity that you can sustain throughout the duration of the work out. You want to stay between 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate.

The different levels are as follows:

Low Intensity: 60% to 70%

This zone is great for beginning and warm up stage or low level intensity work outs.

Moderate intensity 70% to 80%

This zone kicks up the body’s intensity, and You’ll burn more calories in this zone,

High intensity 80% to 90%

Working in this zone takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to burn way more calories

Maximum Effort: 90% to 100%

Working at this level means you’re working as hard as you possibly can. This means all-out sprints at your maximum effort with little rests in between work intervals.

Conclusion

So is cardio important especially when starting out? You will need to decide what fits and works best for you. Go out and put your heart to the test. You have nothing to lose except some stubborn body fat.