September 2007 calendar My older sister is very athletic.

That is something of an understatement, actually.

She’s the one who does marathons and triathlons. The one who swims across the lake while the rest of us drift about in kayaks and admire her ambition. The one who bicycles to the gym every morning for an hour of weight-training workout, before she bikes to work. She’s the one who, simply by doing her own thing, makes me feel like a total sloth of a couch-dumpling…

Fortunately, there’s an up side to having a serious athlete in the family. A sister like mine can be a great resource for health and fitness information. And I can borrow her fancy-schmancy heart rate monitor, like I did over the weekend.

Day 17:
5 minute warm-up
20 minutes walk at level 6
5 minute cool-down

A heart rate monitor isn’t like it sounds. It’s not a piece of scary medical equipment you get hooked up to in a crisis. It’s just a gadget that straps around your chest, just under the breasts. It reads your pulse rate and sends the information to a receiver that you wear like a watch on your wrist.

Just like a watch, the receiver will show the time of day, or the time elapsed if you want to use it like a timer or countdown…

More importantly, it gives you a digital read-out so you can see — at a glance — the speed at which your heart is beating.

Different heart rate monitors have different features, but on this one you can set it with a minimum and maximum target heart rate. As long as you’re exercising at a level to keep the heart rate within that target range, all is cool. Slow it down too much, or start to push too hard, and a little alarm will sound.

Too much fun!

And I found it really useful for getting a really clear idea of what kind of effort I need to put into my walking in order to hit the target intensity levels for each day’s workout.

For example, today’s walk calls for 20 minutes at level 6 (after the warm-up, of course, and before the cool-down stroll). Using the heart rate monitor to keep myself in the range of level 6 intensity, I walked out along my usual route for exactly 10 minutes. That got me to the top of the hill just past Debbie’s house… and then I walked home again, keeping up a pace that would get me home in 10 minutes.

So, for today’s walk, I walked briskly to Debbie’s house (10 minutes), and home again (10 minutes). Because I’ve timed it out with that handy-dandy heart rate monitor, I can be confident that I’m hitting the level 6 intensity needed to burn that fat and carbs!

Read the whole 4-Week Walk series!

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