Standing Shot Put
Standing Shot Put

Fitness: Listen to Your Breathing to Determine Aerobic Training Zone

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

There's no need for students to use sophisticated heart rate monitors to determine when they've entered the aerobic training zone (roughly, 75%-90% of maximum heart). Nor do they have to stop and take a pulse (which some seem unable to do).

To stay within the aerobic training zone, your students can simply listen to their breathing.

Breath Monitoring
Robert Goode, a respiratory physiologist at the University of Toronto, conducted a study on 30 subjects and found that breathing was a reliable indicator of their level of exertion.

For example, when they could hear their own breathing, it was an indication they'd reached a level of effort high enough to produce cardiovascular benefit.

At the other end of the aerobic scale, when they had difficulty talking during exercise, it was an indication that they'd reached the upper limit of aerobic effort and were beginning to run anaerobically (and build up lactic acid).

How to Use
So, if your students want to exercise aerobically, they should exercise hard enough so they can hear their breathing, but not so hard they can't speak without gasping.

1. “Heavy breathing.” Active Living, May 1997.
2. Jack Daniels (PhD), Daniels' Running Formula, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1998.
3. Edward Howley & Dixie Thompson, Fitness Professional's Handbook-6th Edition, Human Kinetics, 2012.

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© 2012, Physical Education,

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