Introducing Heart Healthy Exercises

One way to gauge how hard you are exercising is to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. The Borg Scale takes into account your fitness level: It matches how hard you(feel)you are working with numbers from 6 to 20; thus, it is a "relative" scale. The scale starts with "no feeling of exertion," which rates a 6, and ends with "very, very hard," which rates a 20. Moderate activities register 11 to 14 on the Borg scale ("fairly light" to "somewhat hard"), while vigorous activities usually rate a 15 or higher ("hard" to "very, very hard"). Dr. Gunnar Borg, who created the scale, set it to run from 6 to 20 as a simple way to estimate heart rate—multiplying the Borg score by 10 gives an approximate heart rate for a particular level of activity.
How you might describe your exertion
Borg rating of your exertion
(for most adults <65 years old)
Reading a book, watching television
Very, very light
7 to 8
Tying shoes
Very light
9 to 10
Chores like folding clothes that seem to take little effort
Fairly light
11 to 12
Walking through the grocery store or other activities that require some effort but not enough to speed up your breathing
Somewhat hard
13 to 14
Brisk walking or other activities that require moderate effort and speed your heart rate and breathing but don't make you out of breath
15 to 16
Bicycling, swimming, or other activities that take vigorous effort and get the heart pounding and make breathing very fast
Very hard
17 to 18
The highest level of activity you can sustain
Very, very hard
19 to 20
A finishing kick in a race or other burst of activity that you can't maintain for l
Source: Borg G.A. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1982; 14:377-381.
For good cardiac health a person would only need to work within the 11-14 band. When it comes to increasing the heart's capacity to work more efficiently its not necessary to “feel the burn”. In fact putting the heart under too much strain is not a very wise course of action.
In relation to how we might set up a Heart Healthy Curriculum we might consider the following:
The age and medical condition of the student/students
A high school athlete is going to need a different program than a fifty year old truck driver ,suffering from diabetes and living a sedentary lifestyle. Its very important to access your students. You may ask them to fill out a membership form containing details of medical history. This should contain details of any medications they are taking as well as history of blood pressure, cardiac events and medical procedures such as surgery. Its best, in my opinion to have your students clear it with their doctor if they are about to partake in any physical activity. You may want to see a letter from their doctor giving them the OK to start your program.
The type of martial arts we teach.
It may be more difficult(though not impossible) to elevate heart rate teaching a tai chi class compared to a kick-boxing workout. Some of the more traditional arts while promoting excellent physical activity contain little physical exercise. There is a difference. Physical activity can be anything that involves the movement f the body. A walk in the park can be physical activity, as can say, mowing the lawn. Physically exercise on the other hand is a measured activity which can be monitored and is progressive in nature. To be effective as an aerobic workout that benefit the heart, our programs need to have a warm up period of about 10 minutes,a workout period of around 30-35 minutes and a cool down period of about 10 minutes. After this a 5 minute meditation period is very useful in relaxing the student. So your workout would need to last for about 1 hour. How creative can you be in coming up with a great warm up? Your 30 minute workout section, what will that contain. Then onto your 1o minute cool down, What have you in your martial tool box that you can use?
Your knowledge as a teacher
If you have no knowledge whatsoever of how to elevate heart rate safely(and many of us in the industry do not) then you need to educate yourself first before you can hope to educate your students. There are innumerable websites with some great information. I'll be posting some at the end of this, so, educate yourself in what it take to put on a great ,safe, and massively beneficial workout!
But...... it doesn't end there! You will need to encourage your students to become proactive in their preventative measures in relation to Heart Defense. You need to understand good diet and how it positively impacts on Heart Defense. Likewise environmental factors. How about stress ? Where does that fit in? Lifestyle? Alcohol consumption?
Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be adding pages that explore these topics. I'll also add some ideas regarding specific exercises that I am adding to my syllabus. What might you come up with also?
Some links to check out:

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