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Woman exercising at home on treadmill

Fitness equipment

There is no doubt that exercising is good for your mind and body but you are a mum now – when is there time for exercise? And, if by some miracle you manage to find some time what type of exercise will be best? Lots of mums tell us they find having a treadmill or spin bike at home is a great way to stay healthy. They can jump on when bub is asleep and it doesn’t matter how cold or wet it is outside. But how do you know which piece of equipment is best for you? After all it is a big investment.

First of all let’s look at what exercise does.

Condition

To be in good physical condition means that you have the physical capacity to live everyday life to the full. Modern society has created a lifestyle which features lots of inactivity. Our diet has become too rich and we suffer from too much stress. Medical opinion is unanimous on the benefit of properly selected exercise to improve physical fitness, weight control and the ability to relax. So we know we need to exercise but how much is enough?

What Exercise Does

Regular physical exercise above a certain minimum level and duration of 15 to 20 mins becomes aerobic. Aerobic exercise is exercise which fundamentally uses oxygen. It is normally a continuous exercise without any breaks. That is in addition to a supply of sugar and the fat the body requires oxygen in the muscles. With regular exercise the ability to take the oxygen into all the muscles in the body increases: with better lung function, increased pumping capacity of the heart and better operation of the whole blood circulatory system. Clearly the energy required to exercise, burns off kilo-calories (more popularly known as Calories).

Relationship Between Exercise and Weight Control

If one consumes more calories than one uses the result is a gain in weight. If conversely one uses more than is consumed one loses weight. At rest our bodies burn about 70 calories per hour to keep the heart pumping, the lungs operating and all other organs functioning.

The table below shows some typical approximate energy losses for various activities for a person of around 70kg (150lb).

ACTIVITY ENERGY LOSS PER HOUR IN CALORIES
Moderate Walking 140
House Work 150
Swimming (400m/h) 300
Vigorous Dancing 350
Vigorous walking (6km/h) 370
Tennis 420
Fast Cycling (20km/h) 600
Squash 690

Equipment

There are many options available to allow you to achieve your fitness goals. You can join a gym, go out for a walk or run, take a dance class or even join a boot camp group. These are all effective and lots of fun but if you are a mum with a young bub or two you don’t have a lot of spare time. Investing in a good quality piece of exercise equipment for your home can be a great idea. It allows you to exercise when you have the time, you can use it irrespective of the weather outside and you can gradually build up your fitness routine yourself. But which one is best?

  • Treadmills & Ellipticals (Cross Trainers) are a great way to keep the whole body fit particularly toning the lower body. The adjustable speed and incline on a BH Fitness treadmill will allow the user to adjust the intensity of the workout session and therefore the weight loss. By comparison, a great way to achieve a total body workout is through the use of an elliptical otherwise known as a cross trainer. The actions from this machine replicate climbing stairs, walking and running while allowing you to tone and stretch the upper body.
  • Bikes and the ever popular spin bikes are a great way to tone the lower body. The benefits of both ellipticals and bikes is that their action prevents joints from impacting against a surface so those with concerns around knees and ankles find this type of exercise a great way to keep fit without exerting pressure on those joints.
  • Rowing is particularly popular in New Zealand and allows a powerful cardio workout using muscles in both the upper and lower body. The BH Fitness Regatta rower also folds to allow users to carry out bicep curls providing an economical use of space for a powerful workout.

The type of equipment that will suit you very much depends on what part of the body you are aiming to tone or whether you are just after a general overall workout. It is best to consult with your doctor on an exercise program that is best for you and with regular commitment the benefits will be felt in both your physical and mental health. Whatever you decide, having a solution to use in the privacy and convenience of your own home will allow you to take charge of your fitness – anytime of day.

Monitoring Your Heart Beat

The body’s work rate is reflected by the rate of the heart beat (pulsations) which increases as the work rate increases. The weight loss benefits achieved from a treadmill depends of course on the speed at which it is used. If you increase the speed you increase the work rate and the heart rate increase too. If the work rate remains constant, the heart rate increases up to a point that no matter how much work increases the heart does not beat any faster. This is known as the maximum heart rate and it decreases with age. A familiar formula for calculating this maximum heart rate, where exhaustion sets in, is 220 minus age.

Exercise should be carried out at between 65% to 85% of the maximum heart rate for 15 – 20 mins and it is recommended that it should not exceed 85%.

Example: 30 years old
220 – 30 = 190 puls

HEART RATE PULSATIONS  
Maximum 170
85% 144 AREOBIC ZONE
75% 127
65% 110

Exercise Program

Exercise programmes will of course vary with age and fitness. That said people of all ages can adopt a fitness objective that can be maintained for the long term preferably in consultation with a physician. The final goal is to achieve a level of physical fitness, weight control or rehabilitation. The program you develop should be gradual, planned, varied and safe. It is recommended you aim for 3 – 5 sessions of aerobic exercise per week and lasting for about 20 – 25 minutes per session.

It is important to always warm up before starting an exercise session. This warm up should last for 2 – 3 minutes. This protects the muscles and prepares your cardio respiratory system for exercise.

The next step is to exercise for 15 – 20 minutes at a rhythm which leads to a pulse rate ofn between 65% and 75% of your maximum heart rate. If in good physical condition this may be increased to between 75% and 85%. Later, when our level of fitness has improved we can divide the time between both levels but taking care not to exceed 85% (aerobic zone) and to never reach the red zone which corresponds to the maximum heartbeat rate which we must not exceed depending on our age.

Finally, it is important to relax your muscles. To do this, continue exercising but at a slightly lighter rhythm for 2 – 3 minutes until your pulse rate drops to about 65%. This helps to prevent sore muscles especially after a gruelling exercise session. It is even better to finish the programs with a few floor exercises for maximum muscle suppleness.

This article was written by Maria Russo from FitZone