Take it to heart!

That sentence has a brand-new meaning for the Young Women and the Young Men of the Delta Utah Stake. After a Saturday of learning that physical fitness is fantastic, they can quite literally ‘take it to heart’ by improving their individual levels of fitness, especially their cardiovascular systems (the heart and lungs).

The approximately 80 youths were only part of those who attended the special conference. All members of the stake were invited to participate in workshops conducted by Dr. Larry Hall, an exercise physiologist at BYU and member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness; Dr. Phyllis Jacobson, chairman of Brigham Young University’s women’s physical education department; and other BYU physical education students and instructors. Among them they coached over 600 individuals who had been divided into age groups in different buildings.

Why such an extensive physical fitness program? The reason is simple according to stake president Merlin Deloy Christensen and high councilor Dennis Lamb, a former All-American baseball player for BYU and chairman of the stake’s physical fitness campaign. President Christensen feels that youth should be counseled to go on missions, marry in the temple, attend to their other Church work, and become physically fit so they can do it all in good health. He wants the youth to be active adults and knows continuing programs of physical fitness are the only way to achieve this goal.

Dennis Lamb added that the Saturday activities were only one phase of an on going attempt to teach and motivate all stake members. Practicing physical fitness is especially essential for Mutual-age people, however, because “they are a choice generation with special missions. They must be in good physical and spiritual shape to build the kingdom of God the way they are supposed to.”

Both men stressed that youth leaders are going to be very much involved in future stake events, including other super Saturdays just for them. “We have great youth in our stake,” President Christensen emphasized. “We have confidence in them.”

So did Dr. Larry Hall, who ran them through a battery of exercises in a ward cultural hall. Dr. Hall explained that sticking to an exercise program is important. “It takes the body four to six weeks of exercise before improvement is shown. It’s also necessary to exercise while you’re trying to lose weight. If you don’t, you’re losing 75 percent weight and 25 percent muscle tone.”

While arms pumped up and down as everyone did pushups, Dr. Hall continued to explain. “From puberty on, people put on weight. The habits they develop at a young age follow them throughout life. If regular exercise continues, the body doesn’t need to deteriorate as people get older. In fact, one can grow healthier as one grows older.”

Sit-ups began, and several of the group were a little weary. “If you think you’re tired,” quipped Dr. Hall, “remember your parents!” He added: “People function better when they’re physically fit. Grades can even improve because there is a high correlation between mind and body.”

After trying a number of good flexibility and strengthening exercises, the class experimented with aerobic dance, locomotor exercise steps set to music. Jumping, hopping, skipping, or running around the hall, everyone from Beehives to priests had a chance to make up her or his own routine.

Most planned to begin an individualized physical fitness program after their day of exercise. Leeann Sorensen, a second-year Beehive, said she wanted to begin because “it will make me feel better and stay thin.” Thayne Atkinson, a member of Delta High’s junior varsity basketball team, commented, “Exercise is good for you.” Shellie Morris would like to “get in shape to run track,” while Kendall Topham, a Scout, just “wants to be stronger.”

The young men and young women in west central Utah are on their way to better physical conditioning. Some who live in the community of Oak City, outside Delta, even get off the school bus several stops too soon and jog home. Bicycling, tennis, and walking to school are bound to become more popular, too, because, after all, the youth of the Delta Utah Stake have “taken it to heart” in more ways than one!

Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to withstand the stress of supplying blood and oxygen to the muscles over a period of time. Endurance is increased by following the overload principle: pushing to do a little more or trying harder at a faster rate than one did the time before. It is essential that everyone engage in aerobic activities regularly to improve cardiovascular endurance.

Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activities are those that require a continuous supply of oxygen over a long enough period of time to produce a training effect on the cardiovascular systems (heart and lungs). The training effect depends on how high the heart rate is and how long it is kept at a particular level. To individualize a conditioning program, the following information must be obtained for each individual.

1) Resting Heart Rate (RHR). This is the pulse for one minute while the body is at rest. To determine this, place the fingers of one hand over the pulse on the other wrist and count the number of heart beats in one minute.

2) Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). This is computed by subtracting the individual’s age from 210 for children ten years of age or younger or from 220 for anyone over ten.

3) Working Heart Rate (WHR = MHR – RHR). To achieve a conditioning effect (improvement of cardiovascular systems), the heart rate must be increased to at least 60 percent of the working heart rate. The formula used by Karvonen* is:

Exercise Heart Rate (EHR) = WHR x .60 + RHR

For a woman 16 years old with a resting heart rate of 70, the exercise heart rate would be determined as follows:

  • Resting Heart Rate = 70 Maximum Heart Rate = 220 – 16 (age) = 204

  • Working Heart Rate = 204 (MHR) – 70 (RHR) = 134

  • Exercise Heart Rate = 134 x .60 = 80.4 + 70 = 150.4 or 150

This indicates that this woman must exercise hard enough to bring her heart rate to 150 beats per minute for 10 to 12 minutes in order to improve her cardiovascular endurance.

Any activity that demands a continuous supply of oxygen over a long enough period of time to produce a training effect on the heart, lungs, and blood vessels can be used to maintain a good level of cardiovascular conditioning. Such activities include walking, jogging, running in place, swimming, rope jumping, stair climbing, aerobic dance, continuous exercises, etc.

Essentials for Good Fitness Programs

1) In order to condition the cardiovascular system, the heart must work at least 60 percent of the working heart rate for a period of time not less than 10 to 12 minutes. (When training for specific, vigorous activity, the percent of maximum should be increased to 70 or 80 percent).

2) There should be no more than 48 hours between exercise sessions.

3) Exercise should not be done for one or two hours after eating a large meal.

4) Every exercise period should end with a two to five-minute cool down. The individual should walk until the heart rate returns to near normal.

Individual Fitness Programs

The following sequence will insure a progression suited to individual levels:

1) Measure a distance of one mile. Walk; take your pulse. Decrease the time of the mile walk until the exercise heart rate desired is reached. Jogging will increase the speed in which the distance is covered, of course.

2) Once the exercise heart rate is achieved, note how you feel and your breathing. Use this as an indicator for maintaining the same level of activity for a two-minute period of time. Walk until the heart rate slows down to 120 and then repeat the exercise in two-minute intervals until 10 minutes of activity at the computed exercise heart rate have passed.

3) When exercising with friends or family, be careful to maintain your own pace rather than attempting to compete with or match the pace of others.

4) Do not exercise to the point of overfatigue. Some signs of overwork are chest pains, dizziness or light-headedness, severe breathlessness, nausea, or extreme weakness of muscles.

5) Progress slowly so the body can adjust to its new exercise program. The heart rate should fall below 120 beats per minute within five minutes after exercise and below 100 within 10 minutes after exercise. The heart rate will slow down to 120 in a shorter period of time as cardiovascular conditioning improves. The exercise heart rate can also be maintained for a longer period of time.

6) The heel cord stretch (wall push-away) as well as abdominal strengthening and foot strengthening should be engaged in before cardiovascular conditioning begins and during the fitness program to eliminate stress and strain on body parts. Many injuries can be avoided by conditioning prior to and during fitness programs.

Photos by Marilyn Erd

Show References

  • Karvonen, M.J., “Effects of Vigorous Exercise on the Heart.”