Get Moving and Save Strokes

Whether you walk the course or ride a cart, a round of golf can leave the aerobically unfit golfer dragging by the late holes. Aerobic training improves lung capacity, circulation, and muscular endurance and leads to better performance and better overall health. The benefits of being aerobically fit aren't limited to physical performance; studies have shown aerobic exercise to improve resistance to mental stress (a major plus for the golfer). A dedicated aerobic training plan will help you save stokes by allowing you to maintain peak physical and mental performance throughout the round.

Aerobic conditioning should be performed three to six days per week for at least 20 to 30 min at your target heart rate. Training at the proper intensity is the key to aerobic training. During exercise we physically stress our body and it is our body's adaptation to that stress that makes us healthier. This is why a leisurely walk does not qualify for aerobic training; unless we push ourselves our training stimulus will not illicit a physiologic adaptation. Adaptations made by the heart and lungs in response to aerobic training allow them to work more efficiently by increasing their capacity to pump blood and utilize oxygen. This improved circlation and oxygenation allows the body to perform more work, at higher levels with less stress.

Determining Target Heart Rate

Method 1: Using a percentage of Maximal Attainable Heart Rate:

To determine your target heart rate you must first find your predicted Maximal Attainable Heart Rate also known as Heart Rate Max (HRM). To calculate the predicted (HRM) you subtract your age from 220. General guidelines for Target Heart Rate (THR) using this method are between 60 % HRM at the low end to 90 % HRM at the high end. Once you know your HRM simply multiple by .6 and .9 to find your target heart rate range.

For example for a 40 year old, subtract 40 from 220 to obtain your Heart Rate Max of 180 beats per minute. Then, by multiplying the HRM by the work rate (60%-90%) we know that this person should be exercising with a heart rate between 108 beats per minute to 160 beats per minute.

Method 2: Target heart rate as a percentage of Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)

Using this method is a bit more accurate as it takes into considerations ones normal resting heart rate. Heart rate reserve is the number of beats per minute between your normal resting heart rate and your maximal attainable heart rate. To calculate target heart rate using this method we use what's known as the Karvonen formula.

Karvonen formula:Target heart rate (THR) = (exercise intensity x HRR) + Resting Heart Rate.

General guidelines for THR (target heart rate) using this method are 50 % HRR - 85 % HRR.

Take your pulse to determine your Resting Heart Rate. To find your heart rate reserve (HRR) subtract your resting heart rate from your Heart Rate Max. Multiply the HRR by .5 to find lower limit, and multiply by .85 to find upper limit. Then add the resting heart rate back to that number to find the final result.

For example let's look at a forty year old with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute. Subtract 40 from 220 to come up with a Heart Rate Max of 180. Next, subtract resting rate of 80 from HRM of 180 to get a Heart Rate Reserve of 100. Take the HRR of 100 and multiply by the exercise intensity (between 0.5 and 0.85) then add back the resting heart rate. This gives a target heart rate of between 130 beats per minute and 165 beats per minute.

Generally, current fitness level determines where in the target range we should be exercising. Monitor your heart rate during aerobic exercise. It may be necessary to gradually work your way up to the recommended duration and target heart rate. If you're new to aerobic training or haven't exercised in a long time start out slowly. Gradually increase the pace and duration of your aerobic workouts. Before you know it you will be working at the recommended intensity levels and reaping the full benefit of your aerobic training. Include activities you enjoy in your aerobic program. Activities such as bicycling, tennis, basketball, and swimming are every bit as effective as jogging or stair stepper machines, and they are often more fun. If you are looking to reduce body fat, some studies suggest aerobic training first thing in the morning may stimulate an increase in fat burning throughout the entire day. Research has also shown that the general heath benefits of aerobic training can be gained if you break your daily sessions into two or more shorter bouts. Regardless of when you do it, aerobic exercise will get you looking, feeling, and playing better

Remember these are general guidelines; a qualified healthcare or fitness professional may be able to give you a more specific aerobic training perscription. It is recommended to consult your physician before starting an exercise program if you are a male 45 or older or a female 55 or older, have experienced chest pain, dizziness, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, or have been diagnosed with cardiac, pulmonary or metabolic disease.

Bill Scibetta, RN, NSCA-CPT

Bill is the founder and President of Precision Fitness ? Personal Training Centers in the Charlotte, NC area and co-author of the book Play Better Longer! ? Peak Performance and Injury Prevention for Golf. Bill is a licensed Registered Nurse as well as a National Strength and Conditioning Association ? Certified Personal Trainer. After spending years practicing in the specialty of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Bill has dedicated his career to helping individuals identify and overcome obstacles that stand in the way of optimal wellness and peak physical performance. For more information visit

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