Results of the Fitdigits Genetics & Fitness Survey

Results of the Fitdigits Genetics & Fitness Survey

Thank you all for your responses to our survey in last month’s newsletter! We are always curious about people and their beliefs, as well as the science, behind health and fitness. While this is certainly not a scientific study, it was very interesting to see the results.

 

Great Believers in Genetics

First we looked at the answers from those who are great believers in genetics. For those folks, all of them were in OK to fantastic shape themselves, and 30% of them have always been that way. Only 10% have gotten worse over time, and around 20% have gone back and forth.

20% of these felt like they needed to lose a bit of weight, but over 80% said “maybe just a little”, or that they needed to gain weight. 70% of them also said their mothers were in ok to good shape, and 80% of fathers were too, so there is a high correlation to their shape and their parents. However, only 25% reported that neither their mother nor father struggled with weight issues, which seems to contradict the assessments of their health, or at least they didn’t associate health and fitness primarily with weight.

These respondents were about 50% likely to be similar or somewhat similar in body type to their family members, which is lower than the next group and significantly different from those with opposite beliefs.

 

Genetics + Habits = Determination

By contrast, since 100% of those who believed fitness and weight are heavily determined by genetics and were all in great shape, we looked at those who weren’t in good shape (or terrible shape), since they obviously contrast the first group.

Of these people, almost 60% have gotten worse over time, only 12% have gotten better over time. They are primarily (75%) of the mindset they need to lose quite a bit of weight. Not a single one said their weight was good or they needed to gain weight.

None of these respondents reported having a mother or father in great shape either. In fact, none reported a mother above an “OK” rating for their health. Only 10% related that their parents improved their health over time – most were always poor or gotten worse over time. Only 5% reported that neither their mother nor father struggled with weight issues over their lifetime, so in contrast 95% had dealt with weight issues in their families. Also, over 75% reported having a similar physical structure as their parents.

These respondents also responded that primarily they did not enjoy most types of cardio exercise and their bodies did not respond quickly or easily. Surprisingly, when it came to flexibility / coordination exercises and weight lifting, over 50% reported that their body does respond well but also plateaus quickly. This also correlates highly with their enjoyment of those types of exercises.

One hundred percent of these respondents believed that habits and attitudes were at least as important, or more so, than genetics in health and fitness.

 

Genetics – Bah! Self-Determination!

Which then brings us to the final question for now, and that is, what is the profile characteristics for those who did not believe genetics really played any significant role in health and fitness? All other options had already been covered!

There weren’t many, but the pattern appeared fairly quickly. They were all in very good shape, and yet all had mothers (and a vast majority of fathers) who were not in shape or in poor health. They indicated they were always healthy, unlike their parents. Most just did not identify in physical structure with one or both parents. Like most respondents who reported a high level of personal fitness, they enjoyed fitness activities (cardio the most), and responded well to them.

 

Conclusions

It is hard to draw any real hard conclusions on a non-scientific study, but certainly we could see the patterns beginning to form. Mostly, we are an experiential being – what we experience, we tend to believe.

For example, those who were in good shape, and whose parents were the same, certainly were most likely to believe in genetics. For those who weren’t in good shape, and neither were their parents, they were more likely to be on the fence, and believe it was both habits and genetics in certain roles. Some in the families had transcended in health, while others stayed in the same health stasis. And finally, those who were in good shape but came from parents and family who were not healthy or fit, they were certainly the most likely to believe in self-determination, and habits over genetics.

What the truth is, we are just starting to scratch the surface. But it is a fascinating journey, and thank you again for being part of it!

 

Confessions of a Daily Weight Taker

Author Christopher Means

Part II of “Should I weigh myself everyday

OK, so maybe you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day. That’s the premise many trainers use, and the subject of another blog post here. But I lean the other way… so I wanted to give yet another perspective. It may not work for you, but it does for me.

You see, I’ve been a distance runner / jogger for many years. That used to be enough to keep my weight in check. However, slowly but surely, over the years the pounds kept adding on. This year I finally said enough! I was ready to stop the progression.

I set a goal to lose 10 pounds.

Set a Goal via MVP ProgramWhen I set a goal, which you can now do with the Fitdigits apps, I want to see progress. I want to understand how things change.

I started weighing myself regularly. It started as just a couple times a week, but sometimes got to the every day habit. More than a few times, I weighed myself multiple times a day – sometimes to see how my weight fluctuated due to workouts, food, salt, etc. Let me tell you – it can fluctuate a LOT! I had a full 8-pound fluctuation in one day after starting the day with a nice workout, but ending with a massive sushi splurge (salt and carb/protein bomb anyone?). Overall, however, I take my weight first thing in the morning after a little coffee and the bathroom. Sound familiar?

I didn’t have a date I wanted to lose the weight by, but over time, I did start to see some trends. When I pigged out on ice cream and sweets late at night, that had a detrimental effect on my weight in the morning, sometimes up to 2 pounds or more. Ugh. No more chips and salsa late night? How sad!

I also started to realize that after a short workout (3 miles / 25 minutes or so) I’d lose a pound or two. All water obviously, a good reason why we always talk about the need to hydrate after workouts! It could be as many as 5-6 pounds on a long run (12+ miles).

Fat and lean mass % also fluctuates regularly. A couple percent here and there on a given day or even intra-day isn’t unusual. I’ve never seen really large (5% or more) fluctuations over a limited time period, but certainly a few % here and there in a given day or even week.

In the end, weighing myself every day, even multiple times a day, helped. I recognized that:

  • Fluctuations happen. Over a single day, hours, or even a workout. And they can be significant.
  • Late night snacks were killing the rest of my efforts. I can still remember the first couple nights where I told myself “no – no snacks tonight!” Had I not seen how they were killing my morning weight, I might not have cut them out.
  • More consistent, lower miles/time efforts worked better for me than longer, but less often, workouts.
  • Being active during the day helps a bit too – walks help (Fitbit helps with this, though Fitdigits Walks are another great way to track). In a single day, not so much, but over a week, it helps. Over a month, it helps a lot!

Overall, don’t sweat the small stuff. Big stuff, when you know what big stuff actually is, and what it means – that is reason to sweat. But sweat through effort and self control, not through stress, especially over weight. Oh – and try not to pig out too often on sushi or other favs –and limit the late night snacks. That helps too.  10 pounds, and less of a stomach, are mighty fine rewards.

Weight loss

PS – most weight scales that measure body fat also have a setting for “normal” and “athlete” – if you ever want to see that you have much lower body fat, simply set it to “athlete” – that will knock quite a few % of body fat with the flip of a switch! You got to love that!

Vibrams, Hoka One One’s and the Path to Running Shoe Bliss

Author Christopher MeansI have fallen in love (a few times along the way). Meet my new love.

I fell in like with running many years ago now. That like turned to love, something I was forced to admit, like it does for so many, somewhere after my third marathon, which was 20+ years ago and almost as many marathons since.

But I’m older now. I can’t say wiser, but certainly older. I’ve seen the ups and downs of running. I’ve felt the pain – stinging, shooting pain, dull, sore pain, the pains that come emotionally as well as physically… But I digress – just wanted to give a little background I guess, before I share and introduce my new love! You see, now in my mid-forties, I have accepted the fact that I want to be a runner all my life. I’ve grown to just love the simplicity, the challenge, the peace and simplicity of running. But it is getting harder, as the knees, calfs, quads, and back all start to remind me more regularly that indeed, I am no longer a newbie to the sport.

Hoka One One

Hoka One One - 5 Stars!

hoka-one-one

With the goal of designing shoes for optimal performance, comfort, efficiency and fun, Hoka One One has pioneered a new philosophy in running by merging aspects of minimalism and maximalism.

Knowing this, I have been on a journey to learn as much as possible about how I might be able to keep running all my life. In all the conversations and reading, it really comes down to a few basics – equipment, form, and smart training.

This isn’t about smart training. That’s too big a subject, and really that isn’t my goal – for training seems to pre-suppose a goal, and really my goal is just to run bit, always.

This is more about equipment, the shoes that I LOVE! Which ties a bit to form too… You see, in all I’ve read and heard, if you want to run forever, and without continuous injuries, form is the key. That damned mid-foot strike. I had never realized I was running “wrong” for over 20 years, but come to find out, it takes its toll over time.

So a little less than two years ago I began to learn how to run again – the “natural” way. I read Chi Running (and Chi Walking, too) by Chi Riveria, I practiced for quite some time. I bought my first pair of Vibrams in November, and early Christmas present from my wife; the promise being, if you can feel your foot strike, and get back to the more basic feet on the ground feel, you’ll be better able to adjust your running form to the natural, less jarring foot strike of the mid-foot strike. Your body will just naturally want to do it, or so they say.

It was a bit of a painful start, with my calfs telling me in the beginning this was a VERY new way to be. But I was in love – I loved having my toes separated, I loved the feel of the ground, even when hiking on the trails. It just felt wonderful to be touching the ground again – it had been so long! And yes, I could absolutely feel my foot strike on the heal, or, conversely, on the mid-foot when I was doing it right. Instant feedback, even if it was very strange to change my stride and strike.

I loved my Vibram Five Fingers; even bought my wife a pair for Christmas too. I told friends, I told running partners, I told random people on the trails. Be free I told them! Be free, feel the love!

Then one day, as I was working for Fitdigits, the health and wellness company, a co-worker offered up an opportunity to try a new type of running shoe – the Hoka One One. I looked online, and everyone in the office agreed, these were some of the ugliest sneakers we’d ever seen… they looked downright orthopedic. (note: they have now updated their designs thank god, but they still are pretty, shall we say, “hefty looking”).

They were the exact opposite of the Vibrams I loved… But they said they were designed with the mid-foot strike at the top of mind, but with extra cushioning especially for older runners who loved to run distances. And they were American made in Hawaii. I’m an experimental guy, and the chance to get to try something new was worth the initial buy-in (full disclosure, they were subsidized so they only cost $60 to try this first pair through my work).

Wow. I couldn’t believe it. They were amazing! The cushioning – superb! Even when I wasn’t doing the best form, which happens often when I run with my two dogs, I could feel the extra support and cushioning they provided on the heavier heal strike. When I could practice better form, they were downright blissful. My back thanked me. My calfs thanked me (no adjustment necessary). My feet thanked me. My occasionally stubbed toes (running with dogs in Vibrams can be dicey at times) thanked me. I got a pair for the wife – she even thanked me. Hasn’t touched her Vibrams since.

Are there any negatives? Sure… they wear out a little quicker than a normal running shoe I’ve found – my heal on the inner side of my right shoe is the first to run out of the rubber sole, and begin wearing on the cushioning. It’s apparent I haven’t got my “style” quite right yet, they seem to tell me. They are also a bit more expensive, going for somewhere in the $170 range. The first ones I got were “sponsored”, but I’m on my third pair now, paying full price plus shipping, and my pockets that much lighter. But I just finished my first marathon in a couple years injury free, and with the best time in over a decade, and did it with comfort and style. A good chunk of credit for that goes to the Hoka One Ones. My retirement savings may not being growing as fast now, but the chance of having a happy, active retirement does.

They are a dream, and once again, I’m in love.

My dream, my goal, of running all my life, may just be helped by this wonderful shoe.

Aloha and Mahalo Hoka, Aloha and Mahalo.

Counting Calories – The Fitdigits Way

How does Fitdigits count calories? This question pops up more often then a Whack-a-Mole from those who care about the balance of calories and is touched on many times by others who are just curious. For example, many question why the calories on a manually entered workout are so different from that on shown on a Treadmill or during a workout where heart rate is used.

Background / Overview

  1. Everyone is different. Yep – even though we share 99% of the same DNA and makeup, that 1% is a doozy of a difference.
  2. Everyone changes constantly – the more we seem to stay the same, the more we change. A wise man once said “No man stands in the same river twice”. As your fitness level and health changes, so does the number of calories you burn on a constant basis.
  3. Women and men burn energy (calories) differently. Sorry girls – you just don’t burn calories as quickly, all other things equal.
  4. Younger people tend to burn energy (calories) more quickly.
  5. When tracking caloric intake (with a great app like MyFitnessPal) and true calories burned (with a great app like Fitdigits) you’ll get the most accurate, scientific approach to weight management. The most successful people use this method – check out some of the success stories

Things That Affect Calorie Burn

  1. Your weight – bigger people burn more calories, all other things equal. It takes more effort to walk an 18 minute mile for a 200lb person than it does for a 150lb person.
  2. Your Gender (see #3 above).
  3. Your Age (if you are not using heart rate and have not taken a personal Fitness Assessment).
  4. Your fitness level. Fit people have fine-tuned their bodies into calorie burning machines, and are just plain better at burning calories.
  5. What type and the intensity of your workout. This can be represented in a number called a “Metabolic Equivalent Table” (MET) number
    -OR-
    This can be more accurate with Heart Rate Monitoring– your heart rate actually is WAY more accurate at determining how hard your system is working than guessing at a number located in a table generated from generic testing.
  6. Time. How long did you workout?

 

Show Me The Numbers!

OK. Let’s look at a couple different scenarios.

 

(Bad) Calorie Calculations by Gym Machine Calculations / Activity trackers

If a machine, like a treadmill, knows nothing about you, they will probably use this formula:

Total Calories Burned = Duration in Minutes x (((MET – a number representing the type and intensity of your workout) x 3.5 x 70)/200).

So for an hour long jog the formula would be

Total Calories Burned = 60 x ((5 x 3.5 x 70)/200) = 367 calories.

The MET is a number they guessed, like 5 (from a range of maybe 3 to 16, based on speed) as a guesstimate of how hard you worked and 70Kg (154lbs) is their guesstimate of how much you weigh.

 

(Better) The Fitdigits Manual Calorie Calcs

When you have a person’s weight and can measure basic workout intensity either through self-reporting or by looking at speed/pace, you can start to refine the calorie calculations a bit. The formula is:

Total Calories Burned = Duration in Minutes x (((MET – a number representing the type and intensity of your workout) x 3.5 x your weight in kg)/200).

In this scenario, Fitdigits uses a sliding scale of MET values based on the type of activity chosen and the speed/pace of the workout, cross-referenced with the gender, age and estimated fitness level of the individual (or calculated fitness level/VO2 Max, if they have done a Fitness Assessment), applied to the standard MET tables. It does assume a flat surface, which isn’t always reflective of reality though, but does get much closer to a real caloric burn number. If there is no speed/pace (due to no GPS), then calorie calculations are done based on the user-specified Intensity, cross-referenced with the users gender, age and fitness level, if it exists.

 

(BEST) Calorie Calculations Using Heart Rate – Fitdigits with Heart Rate

With heart rate information, we can actually get very close to real, honest caloric burn numbers.The accurate calculation of calories burned by heart rate is optimized for the heart rate to be between 90 bpm and 150 bpm. The drivers are: Gender, Weight (kg), Height and VO2max (Fitness Level). The VO2max number is an estimate of fitness level based on a persons age and self-reported fitness level, or a calculated, much more accurate number if an Assessment has been completed.
The formulas are:

Men: C/min = (-59.3954 + (-36.3781 + 0.271 x age + 0.394 x weight + 0.404 x VO2max + 0.634 x HR))/4.184

Women: C/min = (-59.3954 + (0.274 x age + 0.103 x weight + 0.380 x VO2max + 0.450 x HR)) / 4.184

Note we actually show CPM – Calories Per Minute – on the results dashboard and in some in-workout dashboards (you can add it with Custom Dashboards). Kind of neat to see how your effort affect burn in a more standardized way!

 

Note: Exercise burn formulas are built around total caloric output during exercise — which typically includes BMR.

 

So now you know how we come up with accurate caloric burn data for you. Now what?

 

 

MyFitnessPal

The final piece of the equation is MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal takes inventory of everything you eat. Enter in your meals using MyFitnessPal’s enormous library of foods, and it will tell you how many calories you ingested. You can also set weight loss goals so that MyFitnessPal will instruct you on how many calories you can eat based on how much you are working out. Set a goal and reach it with Fitdigits and MyFitnessPal!

 

 

References:

http://www.calories-calculator.net/Calories_Burned_By_Heart_Rate.html
http://www.calories-calculator.net/Calculator_Formulars.html#burned_by_hr
http://www.shapesense.com/fitness-exercise/calculators/heart-rate-based-calorie-burn-calculator.shtml

 

Using the Cooper Running Test Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Cooper Running Test assessment is very similar to the Military Physical Tests used around the world. It’s original purpose is to measure VO2 Max, however we have adapted it to extrapolate Heart and Pace Zones as well.

The most accurate assessment for Zones is the CP30 assessments, but the Cooper offers a good approximation when done correctly.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones as well as Pace Zones. To calculate a VO2 Max and FitRank (age adjusted ranking based on VO2 Max) for this assessment, you must have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate.

The Cooper Running Test is for those who are used to physical exercise. This test requires you to run for 12 minutes as far (and fast) as possible (race pace).

How to Complete the Cooper Running Test Assessment:

  • Make sure your profile in the app is correct (Gender, age, etc).
  • Find a track or very flat area you can run unobstructed for 12 minutes (approximately 2 miles). A treadmill is acceptable if you have a foot pod to measure distance.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes (light walking, stretching, etc)
  • Start the assessment on the App, and start running – Choose Run > Workout > Cooper Running Test
  • After 12 minutes, the workout will end
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Stand still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Cooper Running Test will help determine Pace Zones applicable to running, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones and Pace Zones are determined using the formulas provided for this type of test. One of the best write-ups of these calculations is the Joel Friel post here, though since the Cooper is a much shorter test, we set your average pace/heart rate to 90% of your Max and calculate the zones from there. For VO2 Max, we use the formula (Kilne 1987) VO2max = (Distance covered in metres – 504.9) ÷ 44.73.

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Advanced Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Advanced Cardio Assessment is designed for people who are in good shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week). It requires maximum-effort output, which should not be attempted by those who aren’t used to high levels of activity.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Advanced Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Advanced Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to maximum effort over a 10 minute period (for a sub-maximal assessment see the ‘Beginner Cardio Assessment’)
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Advanced Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment. For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Beginner Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Beginner Cardio Assessment is a very entry level test, mostly helpful for determining your lower Heart Rate Zones. It is not designed for people who are in great shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week).

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones too.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Beginner Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 7.5 minutes. DON’T GO TOO FAST!
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Beginner Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to approximately a 65-75% effort level over a 7.5 minute period
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Beginner Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment, assuming that max effort reached 75% of the true maximum achievable (for saftey). For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Critical Power 30 Minute (CP30) Assessments to Create Custom Heart Rate Zones

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

Critical Power 30 Minute assessments are one of the best ways to determine heart rate zones without a laboratory, and is the best assessment in the apps for that purpose.

But it also takes the most personal effort.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones too.

To calculate a VO2 Max and FitRank (age adjusted ranking based on VO2 Max) for these assessments, you must have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate.

The CP30 does this by measuring your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) and/or your LTHR equivalent pace, and setting your personal zones based around that number.

The Critical Power 30 Minute (CP30) assessments are not meant for those who are not used to physical exercise. This test requires you to run for 30 minutes as fast as possible (race pace).

How to do the CP30 Assessment:

  • Find a track or very flat area you can run along unobstructed for 30 minutes. You should run alone and at race pace (it has been shown that running with others affects the test and actually makes you faster). Ideally this should be a constant pace, that you can hold through the end of the 30 minutes without slowing down.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes (light walking, stretching, etc)
  • Start the assessment on your App, and start running at race pace – Choose Run > Workout > CP30 Running Test
  • After 30 minutes, the workout ends and the recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness – the better the recovery, the better the cardio fitness). Stand still and relax for 2-minutes.
  • Your results will be on the final screen, as well as online at My.Fitdigits.com and in your results listing. The assessment in the app allows you to easily set the calculated zone set from the assessment as your default zone set.

The CP30 assessments also help determine Pace Zones applicable to running – similar to heart zones and used for training, they can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times, without a heart monitor. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones and Pace Zones are determined using the formulas provided for this type of test. One of the best write-ups of these calculations is the Joel Friel post here. For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR leveraging the assumption of your LTHR being ~85% of Max HR, and using the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Any day they hang a medallion around your neck is a good day

After working at Fitdigits for a couple months, I ran a half-marathon this past Sunday, June 5th, 2011. The Ojai 2 Ocean, though it started and ended at the Ventura Pier in Ventura, California, which means it was a hometown run for me. I’ve been running for many years now, so it wasn’t a first, but it was certainly a beautiful and fun one. After passing my 30s my marathons have become fewer and my half-marathons much more fun! My goal this time was a 2 hour 10 minute run, on the low end, 2 hours.

chris means

Chris Means from Fitdigits runs the Ojai 2 Ocean

In the interest of testing, I brought my iPhone and my latest version of Fitdigits with me, as well as my Garmin 305, thinking I’d compare results. Of course, as does happen occasionally, I got to the starting line and turned on the Garmin only to find out it was already on reserve battery power (I had only used it for one small run after charging it last! I think maybe it got turned on while in my gym bag by accident). Thank god for backup, especially backup that included my tunes!

It was a beautiful morning, and the race started promptly at 6am. It was great having my iRunner going – I was able to pay close attention to my heart rate, and make sure I didn’t make the mistake I’ve made so many times before – going out waayyy to fast. I tried to keep my pace down to zone 3, my endurance zone, for at least the first 8 miles. I wanted to make sure there was gas in the tank at the end. I was glad I did – it was fairly often, caught up in the vibe of the run, that my heart started pounding harder, even though my perceived effort was still just having fun and moving along. I knew to cut it back.

New Fitdigits Heart Rate Chart

New Fitdigits Heart Rate Chart - Ojai 2 Ocean run


By mile 8 I was ready to “push the engine” a little more, though I knew I still had a ways to go. I picked up the pace to zone 4, allowed myself to cross the line. From there, I tried to hold it steady for the next couple miles, until at least mile 10 or 11, when it was time to crank up the afterburners (well, ok, time to push myself – not exactly a jet engine these days, but it sure felt like my legs were on fire).

When all was said and done, I had just crossed into the “over max effort” zone as I crossed the finish line in 1:56, crushing (yes, I do believe 4 minutes better than your goal time is crushing 😉 my goal). I knew I had given it all I had, maximum overdrive. Whether it was the best run race or not, I can’t say; I’m not a trainer, just an old(er) runner, but it felt good and just being out there keeps me young. The effort was all mine, with a special shout-out to the wife, who of course I couldn’t do it without her support, but Fitdigits was certainly a key companion and partner throughout – and it let me rock out along the way too!

When all is said and done, any day they hang a ribbon and medallion around your neck is a good day. Any day you finish a hard workout by 8am AND get a medal, that’s a great day!