If you interested in monitoring your heart to ascertain your MHR rate have a look at the app ‘INSTANT HEART RATE: HR MONITOR’. Its a free app that uses your phone’s camera to detect, amazingly accurately, your heart rate, or pulse. Once this is established we can work out your MHR using the Karvonen formula and a target rate which will indicate how hard you need to be walking to be in the ‘HARD ZONE’.
We know that Nordic walking can more burn calories than normal brisk walking. As we activate the upper body we are using all of the major muscles of the body. Have a look at the explanation of the different zones below and you will see why we need to be aiming for the HARD zone (70% – 80%) of our MHR if one of our goals is weight loss.
LIGHT ZONE: <60% of MHR
The LIGHT zone is where the body is primarily burning fat as a fuel but at a negligible rate. The body is doing this because the intensity of the workout is VERY LOW to the point at which it has time to use fat as the primary source of fuel. This zone is best used for just getting your body moving and moving more consistently.
An example of working in this HR zone is strolling or a leisurely bike ride on mostly flat or moderately hilly terrain. You can tell you are in this zone when you can easily hold a conversation with someone. You may (or may not) sweat mildly and have a very mild increase in your breathing rate.
The drawback of this zone is that it will take a very long exercise session paired with a very high frequency of workout sessions to begin making a noticeable dent in your fat stores. For example, you may need to take one or two daily walks for three months in order to see a difference in your weight.
MODERATE ZONE: 60%-70% of your MHR
The MODERATE zone is where the body is still primarily burning fat as a fuel, with a slight increase in its use of carbohydrates as a fuel. The body is doing this because the intensity of the workout is MODERATE to where it still has time to use fat as the primary source of fuel with some small assistance from carbohydrates.
This is a very efficient way for beginners to advance their exercise program because these levels can still be reached with low impact and slower steady state movements. The best example of this is brisk walking or slow jogging. You can tell you are in this zone when you can still easily hold a conversation with someone, but there is a noticeable increase in your perspiration and breathing rate.
This is where most people start to see the benefits of this type of conditioning.
HARD ZONE: 70%-80% of your MHR
The HARD zone is where the body is burning a more equal mixture of fat and carbohydrate stores for energy. The body is doing this because the intensity of the workout is getting to a level where fat is not the most efficient fuel source for the energy demands and the faster-burning carbohydrate begins assisting more in meeting the body’s energy needs. This is a very efficient way to maximize weight-loss efforts because the body is now equally using fat energy and carbohydrate energy.
An example of training in this zone would be a moderate run. You can tell you are in this zone when you can still hold a conversation but you are breathing heavily, and you are sweating a lot more. It may take time for beginners to get to this zone but consistency will ultimately allow you to stay in this zone for much longer as the weeks progress.
Please feel free talk to me about this if you are interested in monitoring your exercise intensity whilst Nordic walking.