It certainly doesn’t feel like the beginning of autumn here in New York City. The high temps and humidity have air conditioners working overtime, even at the end of September, and wardrobe choices are trickier than usual. Thanks to a suggestion from my friend and makeup artist extraordinaire, Deanna Bell, I figured it was the perfect time to talk about one fitness essential that helps make my workouts more enjoyable even on the stickiest days: the right workout wear.
I sweat a lot when I exercise, even on the coldest days of the year. So wearing cotton t-shirts, shorts or pants can be very uncomfortable as they cling to my body and make me feel even hotter. This is why I am a huge fan of clothes that wick moisture away from the skin. They actually make me feel cooler and less constricted. For me, being comfortable is crucial when it comes to getting through even the toughest of workouts.
Adding a couple of these wicking items to your workout wardrobe doesn’t need to break the bank. (Trust me, I’d rather save my dollars for a great pair of shoes or boots!) You can find great deals on brands like Champion, Nike Dri-FIT and Under Armour at stores ranging from Target to Modell’s. These labels aren’t just for the ladies, they have great gear for men and kids, too.
Along with the comfy and cool-inducing clothes, here are my other exercise essentials:
- Proper footwear
- A good sports bra (that also wicks moisture away from the body)
- Music that makes me move
- A ponytail holder to keep my sweaty hair out of my face
You’ve made the commitment to take better care of yourself through exercising, so why not “pamper” yourself a bit to make the activity as enjoyable as possible? Instead of throwing in the towel when things get too hot, something as simple as a comfy tank top can help you stay on the right track so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Whether you love it or hate it, cardiorespiratory exercise is crucial when it comes to reaching your goals of losing weight, reducing body fat or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Research shows there are many benefits to cardio activity including its ability to decrease:
- Daily fatigue
- Anxiety and stress
- Coronary artery disease
- Non-insulin dependent diabetes and
At the same time, cardio helps boost your:
- Sense of well-being
- Immune system
- Blood lipid profile and
- Overall physical performance at work and at play
While there are several levels to cardio training, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on some guidelines for beginners and anyone who may be getting back into a fitness routine after a hiatus. (As usual, I base these guidelines using the essential information I studied through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.) Your cardio activity should focus on maintaining a zone one heart rate which is approximately 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. Here’s what that means for you:
- To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220.
- Multiply your max heart rate by .65.
- Multiply your max heart rate by .75.
To use myself as an example:
- 220-37 = 183
- 183 X 0.65 = 119
- 183 X 0.75 = 137
- Laura’s Zone One Heart Rate = 119 – 137
If you’re working within the parameters of zone one for cardio, it’s likely you are also in stage one of your overall exercise program. (NASM refers to this as the stabilization level.) If you’ve never worked out before, you may want to try to reach your zone one heart rate for a maximum five to ten minutes and then spend another 20 minutes simply walking at a good pace, climbing the stairs in your home or getting really dirty in the yard by cleaning up the garden. Your goal should be to eventually maintain your zone one heart rate for at least 30 minutes. This can take some time. A “newbie” may need two months or longer to meet this demand, but remember: there’s no finish line here. You’ve made a commitment to exercise and start taking better care of yourself, so while you don’t want to just dial it in, make the journey work for you.
A final note about measuring heart rate. You’ve made the decision to make fitness a part of your life, so along with a good pair of sneakers and breathable workout wear, invest in a heart rate monitor. Countless studies show it is the device that provides the most accurate heart rate readings. So, whether you’re using a treadmill in the gym or running or walking along the open road, you’ll be able to see if you’re really “in the zone.”
I hope this brief session of cardio 101 will help get your heart pumping safely and effectively so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!