DEVELOPING A FITNESS
An important step in developing a long-term fitness program is to determine your goals. Is
your primary goal to lose weight? Improve muscle tone? Relieve stress? Prepare for the spring racing
schedule? Knowing what your goals are will help you develop a more successful exercise program. If
possible, try to define your personal goals in precise, measurable terms over specific periods of time.
Examples of these goals might include:
The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to track your progress. If your goals are
long-term, divide them into monthly and weekly segments. Long-term goals can lose some of the motivational
benefits. Short-term goals are easier to achieve and will allow you to see the progress you are making.
Every time you reach a goal, it is important to set a new goal. This will lead to a healthier lifestyle
and will provide the motivation that you will need to move forward.
- Decrease your waistline by two inches over the next two months.
- Run the local 5K race this summer.
- Get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days per week.
- Improve your race time by two minutes over the next year.
- Move from walking a mile to jogging a mile within the next three months.
Now that you have set your exercise goals, it is time to write them down and make an exercise schedule that
will help you achieve them. By keeping a fitness diary, you will stay motivated and know where you are in terms
of reaching your goals. As time goes on, you will be able to look back with pride to see how far you've
A warm-up activity should be a progressive aerobic activity that utilizes the muscles you will be using during the
workout. There is no set warm-up intensity. A typical warm-up will produce a small amount of perspiration, but not
leave you feeling fatigued. Intensity and fitness level will affect the duration of your warm-up, but 5-10 minutes
is usually recommended.
A common question asked is, 'how much exercise do I need?' We recommend following the guidelines set up by the
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for healthy aerobic activity.
- Exercise three to five days per week.
- Warm up for five to 10 minutes before aerobic activity.
- Maintain your exercise activity for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Gradually decrease the intensity of your workout, then stretch to cool down during the
last five to 10 minutes.
If weight loss is a major goal, participate in your aerobic activity at least 30 minutes for
five days each week.
The next question asked is, 'how hard do I need to work out?' To reap the most cardiovascular benefits from your
workout, it is necessary to exercise within a recommended intensity range. We recommend using one of two methods to
measure exercise intensity. These two methods are performed by monitoring your exercise heart rate or by using the
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
Target Heart Rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate. Target Heart Rate will vary for each individual
depending on age, current level of conditioning, and personal fitness goals. Exercise heart rate should range from
55% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. As a point of reference, we use the predicted maximum heart rate formula of
(220 minus age) to determine your heart rate training zone. Please use the following chart to determine your
predicted Target Heart Rate.
If you are a 30-year-old, your predicted maximum heart rate is 190 based on the (220 minus age)
220 - 30 = 190
Based on the chart above, your heart rate training zone is 104 to 161, which is
55%-85% of 190.
Borg Rate of Perceived
The Borg Scale (Borg 1982)
is a simple method of rating perceived exertion (RPE) and can be used by coaches to gauge an athlete's level of
intensity in training and competition. Perceived exertion is an individual's rating of exercise intensity, formed
by assessing their body's physical signs such as heart rate, breathing rate and
15 Point Scale
- 6 - 20%
- 7 - 30% effort -
Very, very light (Rest)
- 8 - 40%
- 9 - 50% effort -
Very light - gentle walking
- 10 - 55%
- 11 - 60% effort -
- 12 - 65%
- 13 - 70% effort -
Somewhat hard - steady pace
- 14 - 75%
- 15 - 80% effort -
- 16 - 85%
- 17 - 90% effort -
- 18 - 95%
- 19 - 100% effort -
Very, very hard
- 20 -
While cardiovascular exercise has been the primary method of fitness for many programs over the years, it should
not be the only method. Strength Training and Flexibility Training have become more popular as exercise has
developed. Incorporating Strength and Flexibility Training into your current exercise program will give you the
balance you need to improve your athletic performance, reduce susceptibility to injury, increase metabolic rate,
increase bone density, and reach your goals faster.
Strength Training was once known as an activity performed by young males only. That has changed with the advances
in scientific research on Strength Training over the last 20 years or so. Research has proven that, after age 30,
we begin to lose muscle mass if we do not incorporate Strength Training into our exercise program. With this
decrease in muscle mass, our ability to burn calories decreases, our physical ability to do work decreases and our
susceptibility to injuries increases. The good news is that, with a proper Strength Training program, we can
maintain or even build muscle as we age. A proper Strength Training program will work the muscle groups of the
upper and lower body. There are now many options available for Strength Training including: yoga, Pilates,
selectorized machines, free weights, stability balls or medicine balls, exercise tubing and body weight exercises,
just to name a few.
Recommendations for a minimum Strength Training program include:
Frequency: Two to three days per week
Volume: One to three sets consisting of eight to 12 repetitions.
Flexibility Training is not associated with fitness as often as cardiovascular exercise or Strength Training, even
though it is just as important. A good stretching program will help to maintain flexibility of the hips and lower
back. A flexible person will be less likely to injure themselves in common activities, such as reaching, twisting
and turning, or in uncommon activities such as the annual softball tournament.
Before stretching, take a few minutes to warm up the muscles because stretching a cold muscle
can cause injury. Start your stretch slowly, exhaling as you gently stretch the muscle. Try to hold each
stretch 15 to 30 seconds. Don't bounce when you stretch. Holding a stretch offers less chance of injury.
Don't strain or push a muscle too far. If it hurts, ease up. Here are a few stretches you can incorporate
into your exercise program:
Sit on the floor with your legs together and straight out in front of you. Do not lock your knees. Extend your
fingers toward your toes, exhaling as you go. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to the start position, and repeat
Using a wall to provide balance, grasp your left ankle with your left hand and hold to stretch. Your knee should be
pointing toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your right leg, and continue to
alternate as necessary.
Standing about three to four feet from the wall, take one step forward with your right foot. Place your hands on
the wall in front of you. Bend your right leg slowly, using your movement to control the amount of stretch in the
left calf. Your left heel should remain on the ground. Slowly bring yourself back to the starting position and
switch legs. Repeat as necessary.
Grasp an immovable object (pole or corner of a wall) with your feet planted firmly and evenly on the floor. With
the palm of your stretched side facing forward, rotate your hips away from that hand. Be careful not to rotate too
far or hyperextend the elbow joint. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite side, and
continue to alternate as necessary.
Stand erect with your eyes fixated straight ahead. Raise and bend your right arm until your forearm is parallel to
the floor (palm down). Grasp the area below the right elbow with your left hand. Gently apply a constant upward
force for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch arms and repeat as necessary.
Make sure your feet are even and planted firmly on the floor. Grasp your right arm, behind the elbow, with your
left hand. While keeping both elbows bent, apply a gentle, constant pull to the left for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch
arms and repeat as necessary.
Stand facing an immovable object, feet even and flat on the floor. Grasp the object (fingers interlocked or one
hand over the other) and slowly move your hips to the rear. Be very careful not to round your back. Only stretch as
far as your comfort zone. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat as necessary.
If you experience chest pains, dizziness or shortness of breath, stop exercising immediately and
consult your physician before continuing any exercise.
BORG, G. (1982) Psychophysical bases of perceived
exertion.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,14 (5), p.
- BORG, G. et al. (1983) A category-ratio perceived exertion scale:
relationship to blood and muscle lactates and heart rate. Med.
Sci. Sports Exerc., 15 (6), p. 523-528
- BORG, G. (1970) Perceived Exertion as an indicator of somatic
stress. Scandinavian journal of Rehabilitation
Medicine, 2 (2), p. 92-98
The reference for this page
- MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Borg
Scale [WWW] Available from: