Lately, we have been focusing on the gamification of exercise in our blogs and on our Periscope broadcasts. As you get ready to integrate these games into your routine, we have some tips that will help you maximize your ability to crush MEPs while leveraging the rhythms of your body. Think of it as finding the right fit – but we will spell fit, F.I.T.T. for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.
First, a quick review of the F.I.T.T. Principle:
Frequency: How often (times per day, days per week, weeks per month)
Intensity: How hard (% of max heart rate, target zone, rate of perceived exertion)
Time: How long (seconds, minutes, hours)
Type: What mode (running, cycling, rowing, circuit training)
Now, on to the tips:
Tip #1: What’s your frequency?
How many days during the week are you able to exercise? Do you struggle to get two to three days in to meet the minimum requirements for healthy living? Or, maybe you are one of those folks who enjoy exercising multiple times per day..
Regardless, what is important is that you find a frequency that resonates with you. If you are someone who is active less than three days per week, you will need to exercise for a longer duration and/or at a higher intensity to reach the minimum of 300 MEPs per week (1300 MEPs per month). If you are someone who is active multiple times per day, you will need to select your duration and intensity carefully so that you promote longevity rather than overtraining and injury.
As a general tip, aiming for a frequency of three to five days per week in the GREEN and YELLOW zones (providing GREEN and YELLOW) tiles on your Activity Calendar should get you to the 1300 MEPs per month mark.
Tip #2: Do I always need to hit the RED?
We get many questions about the RED zone, and there seems to be a common misunderstanding that it is necessary to go into the RED zone every time one is exercising. See our previous blog about the RED zone for more information. Rather, it is important that you vary the intensity of your workouts.
The intensity of your exercise should be related to both the frequency and duration of your workouts. If you are exercising 5 or more days of the week, at least one of those days should be a light to moderate intensity day if the other days are higher intensity. Similarly, if you are exercising for a longer period of time (i.e. longer than 30-45 minutes), your average intensity should be moderate (BLUE and GREEN zone) depending on your training goals. If you are exercising two or three days per week, you can ramp up the intensity to the YELLOW and RED zones so long as you have adequate rest between sessions.
A solid rule of thumb is to listen to your body. Some days, your heart rate might show that you are in the BLUE zone, but you might feel like (rate of perceived exertion) you are in the YELLOW or RED zone. This might be an indication that you are over trained or any number of other factors. Be patient with yourself and your body and do what you can do that day.
We recommend trying to acquire a nice array of color on your Activity Calendar throughout the month. Our previous blog posts give you plenty of methods for playing around with the intensity of your workouts.
Tip #3: How long should I workout every day?
You might get tired of this answer, but the duration of your workout sessions should depend on the frequency and intensity of your exercise and your fitness goals. If you are working out at a higher intensity (YELLOW and RED zones), you can keep the duration to 20-30 minutes and still receive many health and fitness benefits. If you are working at a moderate intensity (BLUE and GREEN zones), you will glean more benefits from going a little longer (say 45-60 minutes) or more frequently.
The GREAT news is that research has proven that a minimum of 10 minutes of continuous activity at a time is beneficial to our health! So, if you have a short break during the day, take a few hot laps around your workplace or a few trips up and down some stairs. Slap on your MYZONE monitor and grab a few friends along the way–you can earn MEPs on your work break!
Further, if you have one of those weeks (or months) where it is really challenging to get a workout in, make a compromise with yourself to do at least 10 minutes of activity each day (you will still accumulate 70 minutes of activity per week and up to 200 MEPs–better than nothing).
Tip #4: What is the BEST type of exercise to do?
My friends, that is entirely up to you! Movement is good, whatever form it comes in. We recommend that you find several types of exercise you really enjoy and then mix things up when you need to. In terms of mode of exercise, we recommend that you train cardio, muscular fitness, and flexibility/balance for a well-rounded program.
Cross-training is a healthy way to keep exercise fresh and train a variety of muscle groups. If you are a runner by choice, give the rower a try; or, better yet, try some exercises or sports that require your body to move sideways or rotate (running is mostly sagittal plane–moving front to back).
Another fun way you can use the MYZONE system is to look back on your Activity Calendar for the week or month and see which types or modes of exercise produced the most MEPs earned or calories burned. Be sure you label each move with the workout you did (i.e. Ran Stairs, 7 AM Cycle, Circuit Training, etc.) so that you can assess where you got the maximum output. Then you can decide if you want to integrate more or less of certain types of exercise into your routine.
A closing tip is to HAVE FUN! The more you enjoy your exercise, the more likely you are to stick with it!
As you post your workouts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, use the hashtags: #MYZONE, #myzonemoves, and #effortrewarded.
For more tips on how to effectively use your MYZONE heart rate monitor and for some fun heart rate games, follow us during Fitness Fridays on Periscope – 8 am PST, 11 am EST.
Keep moving forward!