definition of moderate and vigorous activity

One way the American College of Sports Medicine defines your workout intensity is by your heart rate. Moderate exercise is defined as working at 64 percent to 76 percent of your maximum heart rate, and vigorous exercise is defined by the ASCM as 77 percent to 93 percent of your maximal heart rate.

To find your training heart rate zone use this link. You will need to enter your age and resting heart rate. The Karvonen formula is regarded as the gold standard for calculating exercise heart rate.

If you have been walking for a long time, it may be hard to elevate your heart rate during walks because your heart has become conditioned. Consider interval walk training to spice things up. (Check out this previous post for more information.) By increasing the intensity of the walk for three minutes (very fast, small steps with lots of arm swinging, OR light jogging) you should be able to increase your heart rate. To start, try three intervals of alternating fast pace for three minutes, then slow pace for three minutes.

Take a look at the American Heart Associations recommendations for physical activity in adults. Now that you know the difference between moderate and vigorous activity you are all set!



stay hydrated my friend!

Water is the most important nutrient for life. Some very important functions include:  the regulation of body temperature, the lubrication of joints and the transport of nutrients and waste throughout the body.

Studies have found athletes who lose as little as 2 percent of their body weight through sweating will have a drop in blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. A drop in blood volume can cause feelings of dizziness, fatigue and heat illness. Not a comfortable way to exercise!

Here are some hydration tips:

  • If you wait until you feel thirsty, it’s probably too late. Stay ahead of thirst and hydrate before and during exercise. Drink 8 – 10 ounces of fluid 10 – 15 minutes before exercise.
  • Think about hydrating with 8 -10 ounces every 15 minutes during moderate exercise.
  • Keep in mind – higher altitudes, warm temperatures, profuse sweating or vigorous to high intensity workouts all require fluid replacement for peak performance. Customizing fluid replacement with beverages that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates can also keep the body in balance.
  • If exercising longer than 90 minutes drink 8 – 10 ounces of a sports drink every 15 – 30 minutes.
  • Post exercise:  drink 20 – 24 fluid ounces for every 1 pound lost. It’s a very good idea to consume a ratio of 4 : 1 carbohydrate to protein within 2 hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores for the best recovery.

My Chicago weather is warming up and my walks are starting to increase in duration and intensity, because of this I like to wear a camelbak. No matter where my walk takes me, my fluid source is strapped to my back. I love the technology!

If you visit the Camelbak website you can find out your individual fluid needs for a specific activity. Pretty cool, huh!

Stay comfortable and stay hydrated my friend!


(disclaimer – I have no affiliation with camelbak, I  want to share information about any product that makes exercising better.)

a field trip with Phoebe

I found this quote a few weeks ago and it made me curious…

Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash? ~Robert Brault

Living in a city neighborhood this is a practical impossiblity. Too much traffic, too many other dogs, and lots of little kids. Let’s face it, my dog’s size can be intimidating. What if I could try this somewhere else? Somewhere less crowded during this time of year.

Phoebe loves the car! Whenever we begin our walk to the park she always stops by the car…just in case. She gives it a smell, looks at me, then looks back at the car, and we march on. Imagine her surprise when I opened the car door! Without a moments hesitation she stepped right in and sat down. Today we were taking a field trip, a field trip to the Evanston lakeshore.

For the half hour drive to the lake, Phoebe happily propped her head out the window, jowls flapping in the breeze. As we arrived, parked the car and made our way to the beach, once again, she sat. She seemed to need a moment to look at and take in all of the open space. Little did she know I was not going to pull back on the leash. Today she would walk me. Since she was a puppy, Phoebe has loved sand, water and open space. I could tell she was pleased with our destination! She finally stood up, put her nose to the sand and we were off.

We moved back and forth, over here and over there, around in a circle until we stood close enough to the lapping water. Phoebe froze – looking, smelling, listening and then she began to slowly tiptoe in. I was surprised because the water at the lake is still very cold. She managed to walk in up to her belly.

imageAs I continued to follow her lead, there were many sights that caught our attention – another dog running along the beach, some artwork in the sand, an opening in some boulders along the shore and the big watermelon boat already out for the summer. We spent many long pauses because Phoebe likes to study things.
I was happy in my choice of footwear for this guided walk. It turned out to be the perfect day to wear a pair of boots, because our hike took us through water, sand, grass, crushed gravel, cement, and atop some small boulders.

The natural path along the Evanston Lakeshore leads north to Northwestern University’s Campus. There has been a lot of construction on the campus for the last three years, closing parts of this path. I was happy to see the path reopened. There are two new buildings and a sailing center at the south end of campus overlooking Lake Michigan. They are all beautiful and seem to complement the lakescape. At the end of the walkway, looking to the south – a great view of the Chicago skyline. We continued to the north end of campus and the soccer field, Phoebe paused once when she could hear a flute by the Music building.

When it was time to turn around, we walked back through the open grassy field that runs along the lakeshore. As luck would have it the clouds began to break and the sun came out! We moved in a southward zigzag pattern, from smell to smell. I was still letting her guide us in a roaming kind of walk.  As we approached the car, Phoebe seemed happy to reach a familiar destination. I poured out some water and she had a nice long drink!

What a great 4 mile walk! What an awesome walking partner! I had a lot of fun letting Phoebe walk me for a change.image

when to replace athletic shoes

According to the walking expert at -Wendy Bumgardner, athletic shoes have about a 350 – 500 mile limit and should be replaced or repurposed every 3 to 6 months.

Last week after some of my walks I noticed my feet were feeling a bit cranky. I decided to inspect my shoes. As I turned my current rotation of shoes over, I could see the worn spots on the soles.

imageCome to think of it, I can’t remember when I last felt that bouncy, springy feeling in my step. With the bottom of the shoe looking flattened, I’m sure the cushioning and support on the inside of the shoe was just as broken down. Hmm…the last new pair of shoes I purchased was almost six months ago. Considering my usual mileage is about 100 miles a month …yikes! I need new shoes. No wonder I have foot complaint.

But it’s hard to retire the old, comfy well worn, broken-in in all the right spots sneakers. So hard to say goodbye to the cheery colors I’ve gotten so used to. Like a dear friend, through weather thick and thin, they’ve kept me balanced and upright as I’ve looped along my path. With some anxiety I wonder “will the new model be the same as the old? Will I be forced into a different brand? What about the colors – will they be cheerful or something I have to tolerate to get the right fit?”

Oh well, might as well make the best of it. Looks like I’m heading to the store today to find the newest shoes in my hood for walking! Time for some…


in the fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.  Carl Sandburg

This week I spent some time in the fog. Tuesday afternoon the little cat feet crept into my park, right in the middle of my walk. I think it was the first time in years that fog actually descended while I was outdoors in a static setting. I watched with curiousity as it gently tiptoed and stretched all across the field until finally it settled into a cool blanket, contentedly wrapping itself in a tail of vaporous mist. I named the fog Felinity. (Thank you Mr. Sandburg.) Why is it when we personify a thing, it becomes less scary?

Felinity remained on Wednesday, disquieting my morning walk from the usual rhythms and patterns of daily park life. She intimidated my blue sky with her cloudy repose. The stealthy light haze of her personality, silent and poised, seemed to affect any creature which might consider itself prey. With the bird songs muted and the squirrels vanquished to the trees, there was no sense of time. The quiet was surreal. No breeze, no petal snow, no chirping, clucking or whistles. No running, scurrying, flitting, hopping. No color. No smell. Without the usual business and distraction of daybreak, my thoughts echoed and bounced uncomfortably around the white mist. With all of the morning creatures missing or nonexistent, it was an unusual and odd walk. I couldn’t stop thinking “When will Mr. Sandburg’s poetic enigma move on?”


Thursday morning came and I am happy to report Felinity was gone!  (Can you tell I am not a cat/fog person?) Cats and fog are mysterious to me. Too much is hidden when they appear. One never can tell what a cat is thinking, and fog, well fog is always in the scary movies and stories, a veil hiding something sinister. Oh, how I appreciated the gradient and glowy daybreak! The beautiful round red fire rising up in slow motion over the horizon, gently waking my senses and lighting up the world once again. The park and its environment were back to normal – a bustle of busy behaviors.


After one lap, my nose detected a whiff of Mother Nature’s grand scent in the air – the lingering perfume of the white, pink and purple flowering trees. Was it she who finally shooed Felinity off to another spot?

With my mind free to ponder within the bouquet of spring blooms, my thoughts once again found their rhythm in the loud, busy serenity of the moment. Maybe I needed Felinity to remind me to pause for awhile in the absolute stillness; to spend time in the fog of sensory absence in order to appreciate all the joy my daily walks in the park provide.

As I looped around toward the west, I was sure this was my lesson. Over the horizon, I could see the bright light of the setting moon barely surrendering to its destiny. Even the moon seemed to be having a hard time letting go of the beautiful spring sunrise! I get it now – never take this one precious sunrise, this one precious walk, this one precious day for granted.


walking in rhythm

May means birds, blooms and all that beautiful love and romance beginning to float around in the perfumed air.

Find your groove in a walk with this easy, breezy jazz-funk hit from 1975 – Walking in Rhythm by the Blackbyrds. So smooth.

a walking weekend in Chicago

What a beautiful weekend – sunny, cloudless, and a temperature of almost 75 degrees. My spouse and I decided to hop on the blue line into the City for a walk around the lakefront. Our destination…the NFL’s Draft Town.

Blue lineThe first part of our walk took us past Daley plaza and east toward the lakefront. Much to our surprise we found out in less than two hours the Polish Constitution Day Parade would be stepping off with a rally to follow. Looking north as we crossed the street, the morning sun was glinting off the aquamarine blue of Trump tower. Fortunately for us, the streets around this part of town were closed because of the parade and rally, it was nice to walk in the middle of the road to Millennium Park. We could see the silver sails of the Pritzker Pavilion in the distance, an el train zooming under the curved metal. We decided to cut through Millennium Park on our way to Draft Town.

Upon entering the park, we were escorted by rows of colorful tulips and a proud line of stout trees bursting with blooms. Of course this meant we made pit stops at Cloud Gate, the Pritzker Music Pavilion, and the BP pedestrian bridge. On this day the gleaming city was boasting beauty. It seemed as if the all the skyscrapers framing the park were in competition, stretching taut for the deep endless blue above.

The pedestrian bridge is a walkway from Millennium Park curving east right into the brand new Maggie Daley Park for children. What an awesome Park!! There is a ginormous playground in the middle with many smaller playgrounds surrounding it. All the playgrounds dip down into their own nature environment. There are trees and gardens everywhere in between. The various play areas have their own themes and they are loaded with movement oriented activities for kids. There is a long loopy skating ribbon and two monolith sized outdoor climbing walls surrounding it all. This park is phenomenal! Free! And, open to the public.

Moving south out of Maggie Daley Park on a walkway behind Michigan avenue, we finally spot the over sized tents of Draft Town. It’s been 51 years since the NFL draft has been in Chicago. Teams and prospects gathered across Michigan Avenue in the Auditorium Theater. For three days they move through many rounds, making their college picks for next year’s professional teams. Fans feel like they are part of the action as they watch on big screens located in huge dome-like tents set up on the closed streets. The 900,000 square feet (an area comparable to 16 football fields!) of outdoor football paradise is spread out along the lakefront Taste of Chicago-style. With booths and activities, food and fun for fans, families and tourists.

My spouse is a huge Bears fan and there was plenty of rich franchise history for her to consume. (I liked it too!)

We ended our Draft Town experience with a calming stroll past Buckingham fountain before heading home. Our trip back to the subway took us on a path along the Lake.

BuckfountainThe whole trip was under 10 miles of walking. Everything easily connected with sidewalks, pathways and parks. Today reminded me of how much I love Chicago! What a great walking city!