“Torture the data, and it will confess to anything”    – Ronald Coase  (Economics, Nobel prize laureate)

After a four mile walk which took me about an hour, I went home to check the data on my watch. The first thing I noticed was I had neglected to reset the limits on the watch. The limits on the watch were previously set at 160 – 80 beats per minute. 160 being the high end of the THR zone and 60 being the low end. The watch would be silent if my heart rate was in between these numbers – which it was, for my whole walk. The watch beeps (thank goodness) if you are working too hard -heart rate is over 160 bpm, or (annoyingly) not working hard enough – under 80 bpm. The first thing I will do for my next walk – reset the limits to 160-135 bpm. This will allow the watch to “remind” me when my heart rate is not high enough.

Scrolling through the recall mode, my average heart rate during the workout was 123 bpm, with no time over or under the zone.  According to the THR chart, I was working at only 55% of my maximum heart rate.

Throughout my walk, I checked my beats – I have to admit I was walking at a pretty good clip while maintaining a conversation with a friend. It was very hard to consciously stay in the 120 bpm range , sometimes I pushed it up around 127 bpm, but this was only after about 30 or 40 minutes of walking briskly. Physical Educators are always concerned with something called perceived exertion. When I asked my students to tell me how hard they were working I seriously wanted to know how they felt during their workout. Using the Borg scale, a person can gauge how hard they are exercising. Here is the scale courtesy of The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health and the link to their site.

How you might describe your exertion Borg rating of your exertion Examples
(for most adults <65 years old)
None  6 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
Hard 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 long

Source: Borg G.A. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1982; 14:377-381.

If you were to ask me about my perceived exertionI would probably think I was in the 13 -14 range, but realistically I was around the 11-12 range. Even though the duration (60 minutes) of the exercise was increasing my heart rate, there was not enough intensity for aerobic conditioning.

OK, back to the drawing board… I’m out for another walk to get some more data to torture!



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