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Creating an Aerobic Exercise Program (Part C)

How Much Is Enough?

To gain the desired effect, you should not overexert yourself, nor should you go too slowly. Using the following formula to determine your minimum and maximum pulse rates will help guide you in determining that in-between, optimum level.

Minimum pulse rate = (220 - your age) times 0.55

Maximum pulse rate = (220 - your age) times 0.9

For future reference, we suggest that you record your range here:

Minimum _____ Maximum _____

A person who is terribly out of shape may be able to raise the pulse to the desired level by walking in place or doing seated arm circles, while another person, who is conditioned, may have to run quite hard to reach the same heart rate. Don't try to keep up with someone else-use the formula above to find your own pace.

The first few times you exercise, stop after a minute or two and take your pulse. If it is less than the recommended exercise rate for your age as determined by the formula above, you aren't pushing yourself hard enough. If it is too high, ease up a bit.

Take your pulse regularly. With the palm of your hand facing you, locate the place in your wrist where you can feel a good pulse. Place your index and middle fingers side by side in the groove just inside the bone that leads to the base of your thumb-about two inches below the bump at the end of that bone.

Many people (and vampires) prefer to locate the carotid artery pulse in the neck. First locate your Adam's Apple with your index and middle finger. Slide the fingers over to the side of the windpipe and feel deep into the neck for your pulse.

While looking at a clock, begin counting your pulse, beginning with the number zero (not one). After fifteen seconds, stop, and multiply your results by four to get the number of beats per minute. This is your pulse rate. (continues)

Adapted from B. Franklin, ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (American College of Sports Medicine, 2000), and an out-of-print publication by Susan Stewart, RN, and Richelle Aschenbrener, RPT., produced by the Calabasas Park (California) Center for Cervical and TMJ/Craniomandibular Orthopedics. 

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