Ask the Trainer: Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Pace
Question: I read your article on Target Heart Rate, but it did not state how long you should exercise at that target rate. Is there a formula for that? Also, is there a typical amount of time one should spend on warm-up and cool-down? I am a 60-year old woman who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle and this weight loss challenge I'm involved in was just the “push” I needed. I have lost 14 pounds so far, but would like to maximize my efforts for the greatest personal benefit.
Answer: Congratulations on losing 14 pounds! That is great work so far and it sounds like you have the right attitude that will get you the results you want. In terms of warm-up and cool-down I would recommend about 5 minutes. The five minutes before is to warm your muscles up and to gradually get your heart rate up to your target heart rate zone. The cool-down is to bring your heart rate down slowly and safely to a lower level. There really isn’t a formula for the duration of cardiovascular exercise. This would depend on your goal and time frame. It really comes down to the amount of calories you want to burn in a day. You will burn a lot more calories in 30 minutes at your target heart rate zone than you will in 20 minutes. If you are continuing to lose weight and see results I would keep doing what you are doing. If you hit a plateau I would recommend adding an additional 10 minutes to your current cardiovascular program per day, and I would recommend trying different machines to shock your body into getting results. Keep up the good work!