Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jogging with heart rate monitors

I've been doing P90X for the past couple months, but it has become increasingly difficult to get in the 1-1.5 hours daily to accomplish the DVD program with a little one. So the easiest way to get exercise with a toddler, is to put him/her in a jogging stroller and start jogging. I've been jogging early in the morning (before it gets too hot) three times a week for about half an hour. (Of course, I would encourage anyone with heart problems to consult their doctor first.) I also thought it was important that I bought a heart rate monitor watch to monitor my heart rate while I jog. While these watches are useful for a lot of reasons (distance, calorie count, staying in the zone, etc.), I think it has been most beneficial because it gives me reassurance that I'm not overdoing it and putting too much stress on my heart. Before I got the watch, I think I pushed it too far because after the jog, I would start to get a lot of very quick palpitations. This caused me some concern. But once I got the heart rate monitor watch, and simulated the same run I had been doing, I noticed that my heart rate was going way over 80-90% of my HR max. That's a pretty hard intensity and one that is recommended occasionally for fit people. And since I was just starting out, I knew I was pushing it too hard. Ideally, I should jog in a moderate intensity zone or about 70-80% of my HR max. Definitely not over 90% or 171 beats per minute. And now that I own the watch, I can easily do that. I simply notice when my heart goes over 162 bpm, and then I back off (usually I stop jogging and start walking or I take good deep breaths) to about 148 bpm. And once I reach that number, I'll start to jog again until I again reach my max and then I back off again. I keep this up for 30 minutes and then I do a cool down. The good news. This type of interval jogging is the best for losing weight. And I'm still trying to lose my post baby tummy. The results? I am no longer experiencing palpitations after jogging. Plus, I have recently discovered something I had never experienced before but heard so much about. Runner's high. The endorphins being released at the end of my jog makes me feel wonderful. I can already feel it working on my nervous system.

I'm pretty proud of myself thus far. When I first started experiencing palpitations over 10 years a go, I was so scared, I was even afraid to go on a walk. Anything that would raise my heart rate, scared me. I've come a long way. My advice is to go slowly at first and trust that what you're doing is very good for your heart. And not to sound morbid, but since I've started jogging, I've even thought to myself on occasion if I were to die while running (although I now know that's highly unlikely), at least I know I tried. I got out there and took control of my health and my heart.

I still have tummy to lose, but a girlfriend of mine, just commented that my legs look so good and toned. That was awfully nice of her to notice but I'm just glad that my heart is getting stronger every day.

Target heart rates
Polar heart rate monitor
My new jogging stroller


Ali said...

Today I got up at 7 a.m. to go on a jog and told my husband that my neighbor (who I usually jog with) couldn't go but that I would be going by myself (and letting the baby sleep). He was so proud of me that he had tears in his eyes. He said it took real dedication to do what I'm doing. I know he sees how far I've come and he's proud of me.