PACE yourself

Okay the way I see it the holiday weekend is behind us and summer has officially begun. I have decided that today is the beginning of a big experiment and I am entering it on my blog to make it official (I just read that if you start an exercise program writing about it on your blog keeps you dedicated, we shall see). Anyway here is the experiment and what I am basing it on.

I just finished reading Dr. Al Sears book called “The Doctor’s Heart Cure” and I found it very believable and based on pretty sound scientific studies. Chapter 7 of said book is dedicated to the PACE exercise program and several of my health gurus are standing firmly behind this technique of losing weight and making your heart truly resilient. What, you ask, is PACE and what claims can they legitimately make. I will happily explain why I think it makes sense and you can then choose to read the book yourself or try your own experiment. By the way, Al Sears now has a book published that is only about PACE for a hefty $37.95 plus shipping.

PACE stands for “progressively accelerating cardiopulmonary exertion” and it gradually challenges your heart, lungs, and blood vessels to build their strength. It involves doing short bursts of exercise with a resting phase between each burst much as you would if you were predator or prey. “In the wild creatures must be able to accelerate to 100 percent capacity in a single heartbeat. Humans have lost this ability to accelerate somewhat recently.” That makes perfect sense to me as does the fact that if you constantly exercise at a certain level your heart adjusts to that level and it is no longer increasing the capacity of your heart, lungs and blood vessels. I know this from my running days. After I have been running for 3-4 minutes I am no longer putting any stress on my heart and it feels kind of like coasting to me. I actually get bored as there is no challenge and I think the PACE method will be anything but boring.

I have purchased a heart monitor from Target as I can never seem to take my pulse when I am exercising and this will automatically do it for me for only $34.95 at the mere 3-8 second touch of a button. I think the hardest part will be decreasing the time I exercise as I have always believed that an hour was about right. It requires no special clothes or equipment but if you have an elliptical machine, exercycle, or stairstepper those will serve you very well. I will use the exercycle and a jump rope as I have both in my possession.

In theory, eventually one only has to exercise for less than 20 minutes a day to achieve maximum health but you do it by doing a little more each week, increasing your acceleration rate (training your body to respond faster to increased activity) and increasing the intensity of each active phase. You also increase the challenge by changing the duration of the exercise, not making it longer but shorter and more intense.

As I am fairly fit and used to working out I am going to start at Week 3 and 4. As an example week 3 should be as follows:

Exercise for 9 minutes at intensity level 3 (using a scale of 1-10 where 1-2 is a leisurely pace and 10 is full throttle). Rest for 2 minutes. Exercise for 9 minutes at intensity level 4.

I have certain character flaws (my spousal unit affectionately refers to as “being a Carver”) that cause me to overdo, so I am guessing that I will start with intensity level 5 or 6 but I don’t think this matters the point is to reach your target heart rate for the 9 minutes and for my age this ranges from 119-145. I think it is reasonable to maintain about 140 for the intense period. The resting phase of exercise (which might involve walking) should result in your heart rate returning to a more normal 72 beats a minute plus or minus. That will be a problem for me as my heart rate does not readily return to normal after exercise and I know this indicates some tendency toward heart disease and it is my one real goal. I want to reach a point where my heart rate will quickly return to normal which is something this program promises.

I am not going on record with my weight or even saying that is a goal. However, if this program results in my jeans becoming baggy I will share that with you and I will also let you know how I do with intensity and duration. I will track my pulse rate and method I choose for intense phases.

I am up for the challenge, so join me on my adventure and I’ll see you next week.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by krisinsight on 13:05 at Monday, July 23, 2007

    Okay, I just spent an hour exercising and actually PACED myself for 45 minutes of that time. I have to say that the interval exercise suits my personality because “just running” or “just walking” bores me after awhile. Today I warmed up with a level three walk and then ran at level 7 for three minutes. I then walked at a level two or three to slow my heart rate for about 5 minutes. I then ran at a perceived level 8 (to be honest I could not have run any faster unless I was frightened)for one minute and slowed to a level 6 for two more minutes. I walked at a level three for 10 minutes and repeated the previous pattern of level 8 for one minute and then two minutes of level 6. I then walked for 10 minutes varying the rate from level three to level 5. I finished off the running with three minutes at level 6 and walked the rest of the way back to my car.


  2. Posted by krisinsight on 10:07 at Sunday, July 22, 2007

    I am sorry to say my jeans are not baggier and in fact, PACE doesn’t work very well for me due to the time factor. What I do like and what I am continuing to do is to push my body to its maximum (heart rate-wise) for several minutes during an exercise routine and then let it return to a more normal heart rate and then do another push. I find cycling does that quite well as you really push going uphill and you relax on a downhill. I also find Kathy Smith’s Power Walking DVD does a fair job of PACE although she isn’t calling it PACE.
    As for a forum discussing PACE I do not know of one other than those of us who are talking about it right here. Does anyone have anything further to add regarding the exercise program and their success with it or their lack of success with it?
    On a final note, I suspect for baggier jeans I would have to resist putting tasty morsels in my mouth more than I do, so until that day my jeans will continue to fit me just fine.


  3. Posted by barbara on 13:58 at Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Has it worked? Are you feeling batter after trying Pace? Are your jeans baggier???

    Barbara from Barcelona


  4. Posted by Mary O'Connell on 10:33 at Sunday, July 1, 2007

    I am curious as to how you are doing. I am just starting myself and am looking for a website or forum where this program can be discussed.


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