Yes, go exercise. But just as important: Integrate movement into your regular daily life.
When the treadmill or elliptical or bike asks you to enter your age so it can calculate calories burned (or other helpful info), if you are entering your chronological age – the age on your driver’s license – you’re lying. Your chronological age is NOT the age of your body (which is the age you should use for correct calculations). Your chronological age is often not a true indicator of the health and vitality of your heart, lungs and vascular system. The fitter – or unfitter – you are, the bigger the gap between chronological and biological age.
This “lie” you enter into the machine makes a difference. It leads to miscalculations that can fool you into thinking you’re working harder than (or not as hard as) you should. And those charts posted on the machines to help you determine your training, fat burning and aerobic heart rate? They are based on chronological age – not your real age – so you are getting misinformation there too. Which can mean you’re not bringing up your heart rate high enough – or you’re taking it too high.
So the trick is determining your bio-age and entering that instead. In my book, Counterclockwise, I write about the 10 most common biomarkers of age – the measurements of body health and resilience that determine your true age. Some are measurements you already know or can easily discover: resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol panel. Lean body mass (the amount of you that is not fat) is a good indicator, and is easily determined by stepping on a relatively inexpensive home-grade bioimpediance scale. It may be that your gym or doctor’s office has one also.
Resting metabolic rate sometimes called basal metabolic rate is another biomarker.
There are tests for this. Or, you can just strap on your heart monitor when you are lying in bed and ready to go to sleep, start it up, then check the moment you awake. Take the number of calories burned when asleep and divide by the number of hours you were asleep. That’s your BMR per hour. Now multiple by 24. Heart rate recovery – as I talked about in my last post – is easy to self-determine.
Strength and flexibility tests can also be self-administered (there are lot of credible ones on the web). For aerobic capacity and bone density, you’re going to need to go to a sports clinic. But even without these last two (spendy) tests, you can get a decent indication if your bio age is lower or higher than our chrono age by looking at the various charts you’ll find online that correlate statistics with true age.
You’ll want to tell the gym machine the average of your true age to get a better, more accurate reading. And you’ll want to refer to your true age on the heart rate chart. Stop lying!
WINNER OF THE HEART RATE RECOVERY CONTEST from last week and soon-to-be recipient of a free, autographed copy of Counterclockwise is Faye for her guess of 72. My heart rate decreased from 155 to 82 in 2 minutes (73 beats). Check yours!
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