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By Judy Heller

Judy Heller, founder of
Wonders of Walking LLC,
advocates walking for well being and pleasure. Wonders of Walking promotes Walking Events for Walkers by Walkers. Judy Heller is founder and owner of EroFit & Associates, LLC, celebrating Fitness for a Lifetime. Heller offers personalized fitness training and coaching for individuals and groups.
Contact: Judy Heller
at 503-282-1677:
email judy@erofit.com

Also visit: www.erofit.com

I only went out
for a walk and
concluded to stay out until sundown,
For going out,
I found
Was really going in.

— John Muir

Know Your MET Value

Keeping physically active and walking regularly for exercise is good for you. We know that profound benefits are gained by walking briskly, with moderate intensity, for 30 minutes most days of the week.

Someone who is physically strong and healthy is often thought of as “fit,” which is one definition of the word. In the world of wellness, however, fitness refers to cardiovascular health. Here, “fitness” is determined by how efficiently your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and red blood cells supply muscles with oxygen during exercise, and the muscles’ ability to use the oxygen.

One of the hardest aspects of maintaining a fitness program is keeping the intensity of activity at a level where you are experiencing desired results.

Winter offers the challenge of staying active and improving your fitness level so you are ready to head outdoors again as a stronger walker when better weather returns. Consider treadmill training, whether walking or running, as a way to improve your fitness.

How do you know if you are achieving the correct intensity or getting the benefits you think you are when walking? What is moderate intensity for you?

Monitoring your heart rate, using your rating of “perceived exertion,” and the “talk-test” are three of the ways for you to assess the intensity of what you are doing. There is also a fourth way. On the control panel of the treadmill and other cardio equipment is a measurement not often used or understood. This is indicated as METs.

What is a MET?
One MET, or metabolic equivalent, represents an average person’s resting metabolism or oxygen uptake. As you go through your daily life, most tasks require an energy expenditure that is less than three times resting level, or three METs. METs offer a quick screening measure in evaluating your cardiovascular fitness: A way for you to keep tabs on how much intensity you’re bringing to your workout.

If you do not have access to a treadmill with a METs calculator, you can estimate your intensity by the activity. For example, walking a 20-minute mile is equivalent to 3.5 METs; walking a 12-minute mile is 8 METs.

What’s the right METs value for you? An easy calculation of target METs is the same regardless of weight, but is adjusted for age.

Women: 14.7 – (0.13 x age in years)
Men: 14.7 – (0.11 x age in years)

62-year-old woman:
14.7 – 8.06 = 6.64 target METs
42-year-old woman:
14.7 – 5.46 = 9.24 target METs
22-year-old woman:
14.7 – 2.86 = 11.84 target METs

When exercising, achieving your METs or higher indicates very good to excellent cardiovascular fitness; achieving less is indicative of diminished fitness.

You can boost your fitness level no matter where you are today by consistently walking at a pace that challenges your body by speeding your heart rate and breathing. As you increase your fitness level, you will be able to maintain higher MET readings. For example, if during your initial weeks of training you walk at a pace of 4 METs and felt quite winded, after six weeks you’ll find that a more manageable pace since your fitness level has increased. It will be time to train at a higher MET level to continue improving and to be working hard enough to feel winded.

Hop on the treadmill, and click on the METs measurement. Find your baseline and track your progress during the coming weeks of winter. As your number increases so will your fitness. You will surprise your walking buddies when you take to the streets when the weather improves.

Essentials of Exercise Physiology by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, and Victor L. Katch. ISBN 0781749913

How Fit Are You, Really? by Su Reid-St. John. Health, January 2006. www.health.com.

Right Lib

Walk About Magazine, is a northwest walking and hiking publication in Portland, Oregon.


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