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Media Contacts

Julie Frey
Department of Kinesiology

JoBeth McCarthy-Jean
Indiana Prevention Resource Center

Doug Knapp
Department of Recreation and Park Administration

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Living Well

Health and wellness tips from Indiana University

Living Well tips for March discuss the following topics:

The benefits of using a heart rate monitor
Preventing inhalant abuse -- National Inhalant Awareness Week begins March 19
How to help children develop an appreciation for the outdoors

Heart rate monitor close-up

Heart rate monitors include a device that is worn around the chest to measure the heart rate and a second device worn like a wristwatch to display readings.

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Is your workout too intense? Pushing your workout to the limit may be necessary to prepare for competition, but this same intensity can make some health conditions -- such as hypertension -- worse, and can be counterproductive to most fitness goals. Heart rate monitors, which measure your heart rate, are not necessary for a good workout, but the little gadgets -- some with hefty price tags -- can be handy if measuring the intensity of the workout is important for specific health or competition goals. "You can get everything you need from moderate to low intensity exertion except for high performance,"

Heart rate monitors can help make a workout more effective.

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said Julie Frey, coordinator of the Adult Fitness Program in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology. What do most people need? Frey said cardiovascular fitness should be considered the foundation for other fitness goals, such as muscle strength or endurance. A healthy heart and blood vessels help the body's muscles use oxygen. It's at this level that fitness improvements usually occur. During high intensity workouts, however, muscles no longer use oxygen as an energy source, which is why high intensity workouts are not necessary to reach most fitness goals. For a less precise measurement, measure the heart rate at one's wrist or neck. Frey recommends counting heartbeats for 10 seconds and multiplying by six. A little math using the Karvonen Method can help determine general heart rate targets to gauge intensity. To view the formula, visit Frey offered examples below for how intensity targets differ according to goals. The first example is based on a hypothetical overweight woman:

  • Lose weight: Her intensity should be in the low-moderate to moderate range, ultimately working up to 60-minute workouts five to six days a week.
  • Train for a 5 kilometer race: She should vary her workout, shooting for the low-moderate to moderate range twice a week, the moderate to high-moderate range once a week and a low intensity workout once a week. She should try to workout for 30-35 minutes during the higher intensity workouts, excluding warm ups and cool downs, and 60 minutes during the low intensity workout.
  • Reduce hypertension: Her intensity should be in the low to low-moderate range, ultimately working up to 30- to 45-minute workouts four to six days a week.

This example involves a 20-year-old man who is athletic. He wants to remain fit and healthy:

  • For the next 10-15 years, he could workout 20-30 minutes at a moderate-high intensity two to three times a week.
  • In 20 years, he could de-emphasize the intensity but increase duration and frequency. He could, for example, shoot for a moderate intensity for 30 to 40 minutes four times a week.

Heart rate monitors can be useful to people who have had a cardiac event or condition and have been prescribed heart rate guidelines by their physicians. The monitors also can help novices match how their bodies feel with how hard their hearts are working. Athletes training for ultra-endurance or high-performance sports can use heart rate monitors to pace their performance and ward off dehydration. Heart rate monitors include a device that is strapped over the chest and a second device that looks like a wrist watch and displays the readings. They can cost anywhere from $75 for a basic model to hundreds of dollars for models that include software for charting progress and recording workouts. Some can be worn in water. "A heart rate monitor can be a bell, a whistle to help motivate you," Frey said. "Whatever it takes."

Frey can be reached at 812-855-7556 and The Department of Kinesiology is in the IU Bloomington School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Prevent inhalant abuse among children. "Many children try using common household products to obtain a high," said JoBeth McCarthy-Jean, a researcher with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University. Glue, magic marker, white out, air freshener, paint thinner, propane, glue, nail polish, hair spray, whipping cream and gasoline are only a few of the products that are commonly misused in this way. "Inhalants are inexpensive and easy to obtain, and children usually don't know how dangerous they are. These products don't display a warning sign that says 'Caution: sudden death may occur if misused,'" McCarthy-Jean said. March 19th- 25th is National Inhalant Awareness Week. Although national use among children and teens is down since its peak in the late 90s, rates have been creeping back up in recent years. Below, McCarthy-Jean shares some tips on prevention and treatment of inhalant abuse among children.

  • Who misuses inhalants? The average age is 14, but many children report use as early as age 6. Users are male and female.
  • How are these products inhaled? Rags, plastic and paper bags, plastic bottles, room deodorizers, butane, gas and cans are examples of paraphernalia used to achieve a "high."
  • Where and when does inhalant abuse take place? Any place can be a potential location for use of inhalants: bedrooms, garages, locker rooms and "huffing parties." At any hour of the day or night, children and adolescents can huff gasoline, sniff glue, bag paint or suck helium from a balloon.
  • Prevention: Engage in conversations with your child; they have a lot to say. Open dialogue about the dangers of using inhalants with a current event, like a newspaper article or local television news. Pay attention to behavioral patterns, circle of friends and activities. Become aware of the signs and symptoms of use.
  • Signs of Use: Behavioral signs include loss of appetite, loss of inhibition, lack of coordination, disorientation and withdrawal from family, school or friends. Physical signs might include paint or chemical odor, staining of clothes or furniture, or a rash around the nose and mouth.
  • Treatment: Withdrawal can include aggressiveness, headaches, muscle cramps, tremors, hallucinations, excessive sweating and nausea. Treatment can be challenging, but recovery is possible.

McCarthy-Jean can be reached at 812-855-1237 and The IPRC is operated by the Indiana University Department of Applied Health Science and the IUB School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Visit the IPRC online at If you know of someone who may need help, call the Substance Abuse Treatment Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP or visit for treatment referral.

Mindful of Mother Nature. Involving children in outdoor activities early and often increases the chance that as adults they will pursue outdoor-oriented careers and make environmentally-sensitive choices, such as choosing to recycle or buying fuel efficient vehicles. Doug Knapp, associate professor in Indiana University's Department of Recreation and Park Administration, said the outdoor experience does not need to be rough and rugged -- just fun. His research consistently finds that visitors enjoy their park experiences more when the park has features tied to their interests and hobbies, such as museums, petroglyphs, special demonstrations or family-oriented educational programs geared toward helping kids get involved in park exploration.

Knapp has some suggestions for planting the seeds of environmental appreciation.

  • Make it comfortable so the kids -- and adults -- want to do it again. Growing up, Knapp and his family frequently vacationed at national parks. They always stayed in a hotel because his father did not enjoy camping. The enjoyment of the outdoors stuck with Knapp, now an avid hiker and camper. "The kids need to see that the mom or dad is comfortable in what they're doing," he said.
  • Think off the rugged trail: Outdoor experiences can include a variety of activities, such as hiking, swimming and picnicking, and venues, such as national, state and neighborhood parks and zoos.
  • Family involvement in outdoor recreational activities has a stronger impact on children's growing appreciation for nature and the environment than educational and recreational programs held by schools, parks and other organizations.
  • If you just don't like to get outside, Knapp described participation in Girl Scouts and the upper ranks of Boy Scouts of America as excellent ways to develop an outdoor appreciation in youth.

Knapp can be reached at 812-855-3094 and The Department of Recreation and Park Administration is in the IUB School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

EDITORS: Living Well is based on Indiana University faculty research, teaching and service. "Living Well Through Healthy Lifestyles" is the guiding philosophy of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In keeping with that philosophy, this tip sheet offers information related to both physical and mental well-being. Faculty in other IU schools and departments also contribute their expertise.

For assistance with these tips, contact Tracy James, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-0084 and, or Elisabeth Andrews, IU Media Relations, at 812-856-3717 and