- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a system for improving the physical fitness of a person, thereby reducing excess body fat resulting in long-term weight loss, and a method therefor, and more particularly, the invention relates to a method, system, and software for ascertaining the physical fitness level of a person and devising exercise routines to improve the fitness level of a person based upon that fitness level.
Good health and physical fitness go hand-in-hand. Numerous exercise books and diet programs have been promoted throughout the years to assist persons desiring to improve their physical fitness. Some involve complex formulas which take into account countless variables including percent body fat or bodily dimensions such as the circumference of the waist, arms and legs. Others involve eating and exercise regimens having point systems designed to limit a person's caloric or carbohydrate intake, or balance the consumption of certain food groups. Others involve measuring fitness based on the volume of oxygen consumed while exercising at maximum capacity (sometimes referred to as VO2 max), and then creating exercise workouts that raise the heart rate to between 65 and 85 percent of its maximum for at least 20 minutes three to five times a week. Yet others involve a mix of weight training, aerobic exercise and proper diet. Few work and fewer still are simple to use and easy to implement without the use of elaborate equipment, tedious measurements or complex tables. There is a need for a system to improve a person's physical fitness level that works for all body types. There is a need for a method to improve the physical fitness of a person, which method is easy to use and can be implemented without the need for expensive or specialized equipment, a trip to a gymnasium, or complicated measurements. There is also a need for a standardized method of measuring the physical fitness level of a person. Similarly, there is also a need for a standardized system to measure and provide exercise workouts that allow a person to improve from one fitness level to another.
- OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides the solution for a simple system and method to measure and improve the physical fitness of a person. The system of the present invention incorporates years of experience in fitness training and the results of years of testing athletes as well as non-athletes in efficient exercise routines to maintain or improve the fitness level of a person. The present invention provides a standardized method of measuring and improving the physical fitness of a person.
The following section of the written description describes some of the objects of the present invention, but the section is not exhaustive of all of invention's objects.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a system to measure the baseline physical fitness level of a person and determine timed physical fitness routines to maintain or improve the physical fitness level of that person based upon that person's fitness level.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method for improving the physical fitness of a person by measuring that person's fitness level and prescribing a group of simple exercise routines based upon that fitness level.
It is another object of the present invention to prescribe a group of exercise regimens based upon a person's fitness level wherein each regimen represents at least one timed exercise routine consisting of walking or running.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a process of measuring a person's fitness level based upon that person's maximum performance level while walking or running for a predetermined period of time not exceeding 10 minutes, and providing a choice of 5 exercise regimens consisting of exercises of varying repetition, each routine within a regimen requiring no more than 10 minutes of continuous walking or running at one time.
It is a further object of the present invention to embody the system and method of measuring and improving the physical fitness level of a person in a simple slide rule.
It is yet another object of the present invention to embody the system and method of measuring and improving the physical fitness level of a person in a portable electronic apparatus.
It is a further object of the present invention to embody the system and method in a treadmill.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is yet a further object of the present invention to embody the system and method herein in a computer readable medium for application in a personal computer, via a network and a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Briefly, the present invention provides a system and method for ascertaining and improving the physical fitness of a person wherein the person performs at least one exercise routine consisting of walking or running to determine that person's then existing physical fitness level. Based on that fitness level, the present invention prescribes a variety of timed exercise routines consisting of walking or running for that person to perform. The timed fitness routines typically vary from 1 minute to 10 minutes in duration, and may vary in number of repetitions. The timed exercise routines are organized into regimens. In order to measure the person's fitness level, the person must conduct a fitness test during which any two performance variables from the variables consisting of time, speed and distance are measured. The person should perform the fitness test at substantially that person's maximum performance level for a period of time within a predetermined range of time periods, typically between 1 minute and 10 minutes.
Based on the person's maximum performance during the fitness test stage, the method determines and prescribes a group of exercise regimens. Each regimen consists of at least one timed fitness training routine from a predetermined variety of exercise routines. Depending upon the fitness level of the person, the fitness routines may include walking fast and/or running. The person then selects one exercise regimen from the group and performs that selected regimen. In the preferred embodiment, no single fitness routine within an exercise regimen lasts longer than 10 minutes in duration. Thus, the longest, 10-minute fitness routine is performed once within an exercise regimen. The exercise routines of shorter duration should be repeated several times, increasing in number as the duration of the exercise routine becomes shorter. Accordingly, depending on the selected routine, the person will complete at least 10 minutes of exercise in a training session. The exercise regimens also include rest intervals between each fitness routine as applicable. Hence, an exercise regimen calling for five runs each lasting 5 minutes will also prescribe a 5-minute rest interval between each of the five runs. The method for improving the fitness level of a person includes performance of the predetermined exercise regimen on a regular basis, depending upon the current fitness level of that person and how quickly or aggressively that person seeks to improve his or her fitness level. By repeating and varying which of the predetermined exercise regimens is performed, the person masters a particular fitness level and eventually becomes capable of performing at the next higher fitness level. According to the method of the present invention, a person should perform a predetermined exercise regimen exercise no more than twice a day. Ideally, the person performing the exercise regimens varies the workouts such that same regimen is not performed sequentially. The number of fitness levels is predetermined. That is, in one embodiment there are twenty-one fitness levels beginning with level one and ending at level twenty and including an interim level between level seven and eight. In this exemplary, fitness level one is representative of a beginner and level twenty is representative of a world-class athlete.
The present invention also includes several embodiments. The system may be embodied in a slide rule.
The system may also be embodied in a portable, electronic fitness training device for determining timed fitness training routines based on a person's fitness level. The portable device may be hand-held, designed to be strapped to apparel or shoes, or may be designed to be worn around the arm, wrist, ankle or neck. The device includes a memory for storing user entered data, an operating program and a plurality of user prompts for the operating program. The device also includes a user interface to enable a user to enter data into the memory, and a display to visually display information to the user. A command and control circuit executes the program, performs mathematical calculations, and generates control signals based upon inputted data from the user interface. The command and control circuit is coupled with the user interface and display, and accepts data inputted via the user interface and generates an output to the display based upon the inputted data and execution of the program. The fitness training device prompts a user to input data based upon the two performance variables from the variables consisting of time, speed and distance based upon the user walking or running at substantially his or her maximum performance level for a period of time within a predetermined range of time periods. Based upon the user input, the fitness training device determines a group of exercise regimens each consisting of at least one timed fitness training routine from a predetermined variety of walking or running routines to be performed by the user. The predetermined variety of timed routines are selected based upon the measured performance variables inputted by the user. The device then displays the group of exercise regimens on the display. The portable fitness training device may be programmed to prompt the user to select from among the displayed exercise regimens, in addition to having the capacity to measure a timed fitness training routine during its performance by the user.
The system of the present invention maybe embodied in a computer readable medium including computer instructions for fitness training. The computer instructions include instructions for storing a user's fitness level based upon input from the user, determining exercise regimens consisting of at least one exercise routine from a predetermined group of exercise routines consisting of timed walking and running routines, and displaying the determined exercise regimens.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The system of the present invention may also be embodied in a programmable exercise treadmill. Programmable treadmills are known in the art and include a frame structure having two rotatable pulleys, the pulleys being positioned substantially parallel to each other, and a pair of spaced apart longitudinal frame members for providing longitudinal structural support for said frame structure. The treadmill also includes a motor for rotating at least one of the pulleys, a belt secured over the pulleys so as to move the belt in a longitudinal direction when the pulley is rotated, and a control panel secured to the frame structure. The control panel is operatively connected to a control system. The control system is operatively connected to the motor and is capable of being programmed with instructions for the operation of the treadmill. The control panel includes at least one display and a set of user controls for controlling the treadmill. The programmable exercise treadmill includes programming instructions for the control system. The programming instructions control the operation of the treadmill such that the program prompts a user via the display for a test performance. Upon affirmative input from the user, the program controls the treadmill to perform a test performance. The program then determines timed fitness training routines from a predetermined variety of exercise routines from the group of routines consisting of walking routines and running routines based upon the duration and distance covered during the test performance. The program then instructs the control system to display a group of exercise regimens, each regimen consisting of at least one exercise routine, via the display and prompts the user for input. The user may then select from among the displayed routines to begin a fitness training workout regimen. The programmable treadmill may include additional features. For example, the treadmill may allow for use by multiple users and may store each user's fitness level and exercise history.
The subject matter which is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The foregoing, and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention are shown and described in the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments which should be viewed in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1A diagrammatically illustrates a slide rule embodiment of the system of the present invention used to measure the physical fitness level of a person and determine timed physical fitness routines to maintain or improve the physical fitness level of that person;
FIG. 1B diagrammatically illustrates one part of an embodiment of the fitness system of the present invention including a table with a slide superimposed atop the table;
FIG. 1C diagrammatically illustrates the complementary part of the embodiment of FIG. 1B;
FIG. 1D diagrammatically illustrates another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2A diagrammatically illustrates a portable, electronic embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2B is a block diagram illustrating the circuitry of the electronic device incorporating the present invention;
FIG. 2C is a flow diagram illustrating the operation of the system;
FIG. 3 diagrammatically illustrates a perspective view of a programmable treadmill incorporating the system of the present invention;
FIG. 4 diagrammatically illustrates a display panel of a treadmill programmed with the fitness system of the present invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating a computer system useful for implementing an embodiment of the present invention.
The present invention relates to a system for improving the physical fitness of a person, thereby reducing excess body fat resulting in long-term weight loss, and a method therefore. More particularly, the invention relates to a method, system, and software for ascertaining the physical fitness level of a person and devising exercise routines to improve the fitness level of a person based upon that fitness level. The method of the present invention may be embodied in numerous systems. A slide rule system including a descriptive chart and slide is diagrammatically illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1D. The present invention may also be embodied in a portable, electronic device as illustrated in FIG. 2A. The system may also be embodied in a computer readable medium applicable to desktop computers, laptops, a networked based computer system, or a personal digital assistant (PDA). It is important to note that the embodiments of the invention described below are only examples of some of the uses of the teachings described herein. In general, statements made in the specification do not limit any of the various claimed inventions. Moreover, some statements may apply to some inventive features but not to others. Unless otherwise indicated, singular elements may be in the plural and vice versa with no loss of generality. Similar reference numerals and letters represent similar components and system features throughout the drawings and the written description.
FIG. 1A diagrammatically illustrates a slide rule for determining a person's fitness level and for determining timed fitness training routines from a predetermined variety of walking or running routines to be performed. The fitness system 10 of the present invention is explained in the chart 20 which is used in conjunction with slide 30. Ars 32, 34 indicate that chart 20 slides within slide 30. In the illustrated embodiment, slide 30 is constructed of a transparent material such that the user is able to read the information on chart 20 through the slide 30. Accordingly, the slide 30 provides a frame or window 50 which when placed at the proper location on chart 20 provides information on the user's fitness level and on a variety of fitness routines to be performed by the user commensurate with the user's fitness level. When properly applied by a user, the fitness system 10, embodied in the chart 20 and slide 30, will enable that user to improve his or her physical fitness level and thereby reduce the quantity of excess bodily fat in the process. Through continuous use of the system 10 over a period of time, that user will experience weight loss attributed to loss of excess bodily fat.
FIG. 1B diagrammatically illustrates part of chart 20 showing fitness levels 1 through 10 along the left most column 40. In the illustrated embodiment, chart 20 includes twenty-one fitness levels (chart 20 continues in FIG. 1C). More fitness levels may be utilized to provide additional steps for the person using the chart to reach a particular goal or fitness level. For example, the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1B includes level 7.5 between levels 7 and 8, and additional levels maybe added halfway between any of the fitness levels on chart 20. Studies have shown that the jump from fitness level 7 to 8 is significant. Accordingly, an intermediate level 7.5 has been added to chart 20 to encourage users reaching level 7 to continue training to reach level 7.5. Fitness level one, shown at the bottom, left corner of the chart 20 is indicative of the least fit level and fitness level twenty the most fit level (FIG. 1C). Other nomenclature or symbols—other than numbers one through twenty—may be used to indicate the fitness level. For example, the fitness level may be indicated by a color coded series of bars as is used to indicate higher levels of performance or mastery in martial arts. For the practical purpose of illustration, chart 20 has been divided between FIGS. 1B and 1C. However, in one embodiment, chart 20 includes all 21 fitness levels (see FIG. 1D). In the embodiments of the charts of FIGS. 1B through 1D, in addition to indicating a particular fitness level, column 40 also corresponds to the speed in miles per hour at which a person is walking or running when the person performs an exercise routine falling within the row corresponding to that fitness level.
In accordance with data shown in chart 20 (FIGS. 1B, 1C and 1D), fitness levels 15 through 20 are indicative of persons at fitness levels on par with that of world-class athletes. Levels 11 through 14 indicate a fitness level of athletes generally, and levels 1 through 10 are representative of beginners through intermediate stages, respectively. The fitness system 10 of the present invention may be further divided into sections having multiple levels such that the charts are provided to the user as that person reaches higher levels of fitness. For example, chart 20 may be divided into three categories representative of a beginner to intermediate stage, an athletic stage and a world-class athlete stage. As a person matures from a beginner stage to a higher stage, a new chart is introduced. By promoting use of the fitness system 10 in stages, a person at one of the beginning fitness levels is not discouraged by perceiving the need to reach the fitness level of a world-class athlete and can set his or her goal at a more realistic expectation of reaching the top of that particular intermediate stage.
In FIGS. 1B, 1C and 1D, chart 20 includes 10 columns representing time in minutes increasing from one minute to ten minutes, from left to right (see bottom row), and the number of repetitions decreasing from ten to one (see top row), from left to right. The bottom, time row 42 is numbered 1 to 10. The top, repetitions row 44 is numbered from ten to one. The time row 42 is used to describe the duration of a workout routine and, when applicable, the duration of the rest interval between each repetition of a workout regimen. Chart 20 also includes a “minutes per mile” column 46 at the right side of the chart 20. As the fitness levels increase from one to twenty, the minutes per mile figure decreases correspondingly. Hence, in FIG. 1B, a person performing at fitness level ten (the top row) is running at a 6 minute-per-mile pace.
The charts illustrated in FIGS. 1B-1D include cells having four sets of data. Each cell within chart 20 includes fitness level, speed, distance and time information. For example, in FIG. 1B, cell 48 includes 266 m, indicating 266 meters, 2/5, indicating fitness level 2 (or 2 miles per hour) at 5 minutes, and 0.16M, indicating 0.16 miles. As can be readily appreciated, other than the distance information, the individual cells of the charts illustrated in FIGS. 1B-1C provide information that can be determined by cross-referencing the numerals which label the bottom row and left column. For example, in cell 48, the 2/5 numbers can be ascertained by noting that the 2 corresponds to row 2, the fitness level along left-most column 40, and the 5 corresponds to time column 5, the minutes along the bottom time row 42. Finally, although chart 20 provides distance in both meters and miles, the chart need not include such information as the distance maybe calculated by cross-referencing the speed and time. Additionally, the data contained within chart 20 may be expressed in other units of measure. Hence, for example, the distance may be provided in yards instead of miles and meters. FIG. 1D illustrates a simple embodiment of chart 20 including distance measured in meters.
The information contained within each element of chart 20 need not be reproduced in the element, because the information may be ascertained by cross-referencing the data in time row 42 and the miles-per-hour column 40. Other embodiments of chart 20 do not include such data within the cells of the chart 20. For example, in one embodiment, chart 20 only includes fitness level data in the chart's cells. This embodiment would be particularly useful in connection with treadmills which can be adjusted to operate at a particular speed for a predetermined period of time. As will be readily understood from the explanation regarding use of the present invention below, because the fitness level corresponds to the speed in the illustrated embodiment, the user may adjust the speed of the treadmill to the correct level and then perform the prescribed workout routine. Accordingly, the additional information contained in the elements of chart 20 of the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1B and 1C are for ease of use.
FIGS. 1A and 1B include a slide 30. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, slide 30 is constructed of a transparent material which allows the user to see the information on chart 20 through the slide. Slide 30 provides a window-like frame 50 which is adapted to slide over all ten time columns of chart 20. FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate the use of flaps 36, 38 that serve to capture chart 20 such that the left and right borders of frame 50 align with the outer boundaries of column 1 and 10 of chart 20. The embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B is but one of several designs that can be implemented to construct a slide rule as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art. Frame 50 of slide 30 includes 5 rows having dimensions corresponding to the rows of chart 20. Frame 50 is further defined by a step-like line that divides the frame in a diagonal fashion defining two regions 60,70. Region 60, the lower left side, includes areas 62, 64, 66, 68 and 69. For ease in reference, region 60 will be referred to as the active region. The right most part of each row of region 60 will be used to measure the fitness level of a person and to determine one or more timed fitness routines. Region 70, the upper right side, includes areas 74, 76, 78 and 79. For ease in reference, region 70 will be referred to as the defining region. In some instances, as will be explained below, region 70 helps in the measurement of a person's fitness level.
The active region 60
is marked to indicate that the bottom row of the region, or area 62
, represents a workout routine of a single repetition lasting 10 minutes. The row above, area 64
, represents a workout routine lasting 5 minutes which should be repeated up to 5 times. Area 66
, the middle row, represents a 3-minute workout routine which should be repeated up to 7 times. Area 68
represents a 2-minute workout to be repeated up to 8 times. Area 69
defines a 1-cell sized area representing a 1-minute workout to be repeated up to 10 times. In order to ease understanding the present invention, a workout routine or exercise routine is defined as a single walking or running event lasting a predetermined amount of time. An exercise or fitness training regimen is defined as at least one exercise routine or workout routine. Hence, by way of example, a fitness training regimen may be defined by eight workout routines lasting 2 minutes each with a rest interval of 2 minutes between each routine, or may be defined by a single exercise routine lasting 10 minutes. The workout table below lists five regimens consisting of timed workout routines used in conjunction with the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIGS. 1
|Timed Fitness Training Regimens |
|Workout Time (minutes) ||Repetition(s) ||Rest Interval (minutes) |
|1 ||10 ||1 |
|2 ||8 ||2 |
|3 ||7 ||3 |
|5 ||5 ||5 |
|10 ||1 ||— |
The timed fitness training regimens above have been found to be effective in improving the physical fitness of a person. Moreover, the simple breakdown of the regimens into timed exercise routines of rounded incremental values makes this embodiment of the system and method of the present invention easy to use. More sophisticated embodiments of the present invention, for example, as used in a programmable treadmill or in a computer based application, may divide the exercise routines into different or further incremental values within the 10-minute range. For example, the routines may be defined by durations increasing from 1 minute to 10 minutes in increments of 10, 20 or 30 seconds. The present invention may also include workout routines longer in duration. However, in the preferred embodiment, no single workout routine exceeds 10 minutes in duration. Experience indicates that the fitness training regimens organized in the charts of FIGS. 1B through 1D are effective in maintaining and increasing the fitness level of a person, depending upon how often the fitness training regimens are performed by the end user. Moreover, as a person increases in fitness level, that person experiences a reduction in excess bodily fat. The 10-minute maximum duration for any one exercise routine also entices many to participate in an exercise program involving walking or running that they would otherwise have no interest in implementing for themselves.
The fitness system 10 of the present invention works as follows. A person must first test and measure his or her current fitness level. In order to test and measure a person's fitness level, the person must walk or run at substantially the maximum of that person's ability for a duration of time between 1 minute and 10 minutes. The person may walk or run on a measured track or a treadmill that tracks distance. Ideally, the person performs the test walk or run as fast as the person can for a minimum of 1 minute up to a maximum of 10 minutes. It is not critical that the test walk or run be at the person's absolute maximum potential, because the object of the test is to place the person's fitness level within the chart 20 in order to determine fitness training regimens and begin the process of improving the physical fitness of the person. Moreover, each fitness level within chart 20 has a range such that even if a person does not perform at his or her absolute maximum, such person is likely to accurately determine his or her fitness level. Finally, the performance of future fitness training regimens or their component workout routines will provide additional opportunities to re-test and reassess the person's fitness level.
During the test walk, run or combination of walking and running, measurements of time and speed, time and distance, or speed and distance should be noted. Using these measurements, a person can find a cell on chart 20 which most closely matches the tested effort. By way of example, suppose that a person who walks at substantially that person's maximum performance level for a total of 5 minutes is able to travel 266 meters, approximately equivalent to 2/3 lap around a standard track of approximately 400 meters, a distance covering 0.16 miles. Using chart 20, the person finds the 5-minute column from the time row 42. Working his or her way up column 5, the cells progress from a distance of 133 meters for the first row, 266 meters for the second row, 400 meters for the third row and so on. Hence, the test walk is represented by cell 48 (the second row of the 5th column). Notably, this person could have reached the same cell knowing that he or she was walking at a 2 miles/hour pace for a total of 5 minutes. Also note that if the person had pushed himself or herself harder and been able to complete ¾ of a lap or 300 meters instead of 266 meters, that person would still be at the same cell within chart 20, cell 48. Hence, using two performance variables from the group of time, speed and distance, a person is able to find the cell on chart 20 that most closely matches the person's maximum performance.
Next, using slide 30, the person slides frame 50 up chart 20 until the test cell falls within the right most cell of the active region 60. In the example, cell 48 aligns with the right most cell of the second row 64 of active region 60 within frame 50. In FIG. 1B, frame 50 of slide 30 is represented in bold on chart 20. Hence, in the exemplary test, the top of frame 50 aligns with the top of row 5, corresponding to fitness level 5, and the bottom of frame 50 aligns with the bottom of chart 20. The alignment of the top row 69 of frame 50 determines the fitness level of the person. Under the example, this person is at fitness level 5. Note that had the same person walked ⅕ of a mile or 0.20 miles in 6 minutes, he or she would have tested at 2/6 and still be at the same fitness level—level 5. This is because if the test cell does not align with the right-most cell of a row in the active region 60, then the person should slide frame 50 through chart 20 until a right-most part of active region 60 aligns as close to the left of the test cell as possible. Hence, a person who measures at cell 2/6 would align frame 50 as shown in bold in FIG. 1B such that cell 48 is directly to the left of the 2/6 test cell. The same holds true for test level 2/7, 2/8 and 2/9.
The fitness level measuring can be accomplished for any duration between 1 minute and 10 minutes. If the test is conducted for 1 minute, then the slide 30 is aligned such that cell 69 (the top row of active region 60) fits directly over the test cell that most closely matches the person's performance. For the 1-minute test, the fitness level of the applicable test cell is that person's fitness level. Similarly, if the fitness level measuring procedure is conducted for 10 minutes, the bottom right-most cell (the right-most cell of row 62) is fit over the test cell that most closely matches the person's performance. That person's fitness level is 4 levels above that row. Continuing with the previous example, had the person measured 130 meters over a 1-minute test, the 5/1 cell best aligns with the test results. Hence, such person would be at a fitness level 5. Had the same person walked for 10 minutes and only been able to cover 300 meters, then he or she would test at the 1/10 cell. Placing the bottom right corner of slide 30 over the 1/10 cell reveals that the person is still at fitness level 5.
In order for this person to have tested at the next fitness level, he or she would have to be able to walk at 3 mph for a minimum of 5 minutes (test level 3/5). In general, a fitness test at a particular speed that lasts between 5 and 9 minutes all result in the same fitness level. In other words, whether the person walks or runs at the same average pace for 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 minutes does not matter because they all measure at the same level. The same holds true for the 3 and 4-minute tests.
Based upon a person's fitness level, the present fitness system 10 identifies a variety of timed fitness training regimens, each consisting of at least one walking or running routine designed to help that person either maintain or increase the person's fitness level, depending upon how often the person performs the prescribed regimens. In accordance with the Timed Fitness Training Regimens table above, the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1B identifies 5 fitness training regimens having exercise routines of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 minutes in duration. Each row of the slide 30 defines a training regimen. In order to determine the various training regimens, the slide 30 is placed on the chart 20 such that the top, single cell 69 of the active region 60 is aligned with the person's fitness level. The user must look at the right-most cell of each row within the active region 60 to determine the details of the exercise routines making up that particular row's training regimen. For the top row, there is only one 1 cell in region 60—cell 69. Hence, that cell defines a 1-minute exercise routine. The distance indicated in the cell shows the user the distance that should be traveled within a 1-minute walk or run. The next row 68 below includes two cells in active region 60. Using the right-most cell, the 2-minute exercise routine is determined. Using the same technique, the 3-minute, 5-minute and 10-minute exercise routines are determined. Notably, each exercise routine may be defined in terms of speed and time as well as distance and time.
In the example of the person at fitness level 5
, the chart identifies the following timed fitness regimens:
|1 min. of fast walking for ||10 ||reps. ||1 min. rest between reps. |
|133 meters or at 5 mph |
|2 mins. of fast walking for ||8 ||reps. ||2 mins. rest between reps. |
|214 meters or at 4 mph |
|3 mins. of fast walking for ||7 ||reps. ||3 mins. rest between reps. |
|240 meters or at 3 mph |
|5 mins. of fast walking for ||5 ||reps. ||5 mins. rest between reps. |
|266 meters or at 2 mph |
|10 mins. of walking for ||1 ||rep. ||May not be applicable. |
|266 meters or at 1 mph |
In FIG. 1B, the first regimen is identified by cell 89 and consists of ten, 1-minute exercise routines. The second regimen is identified by cell 88, and consists of eight, 2-minute exercise routines. The third regimen is identified by cell 86, and consists of seven, 3-minute exercise routines. The fourth regimen is identified by cell 48, and consists of five, 5-minute exercise routines. The fifth regimen is identified by cell 82, and consists of one, 10-minute exercise routine. The level-5 person is to perform the timed fitness training regimens outlined above. Depending on the fitness level of the person, if this person does one of the 5 prescribed fitness training regimens daily, he or she will likely improve his or her physical fitness and thereby cause a reduction in excess bodily fat. As a person reaches the higher fitness levels, additional training regimens may have to be incorporated into that person's daily training to reach even higher fitness levels. The training regimens are designed to be performed a maximum of twice in one day, but can be performed more often with proper rest. Moreover, two regimens may be performed sequentially. Thus, for example, if a person performs the fifth regimen consisting of one, 10-minute routine, then that person would rest for 10-minutes, and then, ideally perform another regimen from the four unperformed regimens. If a person is simply trying to maintain a particular fitness level, the training regimens may be performed as little as 3 to 4 times a week, depending upon the athletic conditioning and the current fitness level of that person. A person desiring to maintain his or her fitness level at the higher levels may need to perform fitness training regimens more often than those at the lower levels.
It is best to mix the particular fitness training regimen from one performance to another. By way of example, if on one day the fitness level 5 person performs a training regimen consisting of 10 repetitions of fast walking at 5 mph for 1 minute, with 1 minute intervals of rest between repetitions, then the next day that same person should choose to perform one of the other four remaining fitness training regimens (2, 3, 5 or 10-minute training regimens). If a person seeks to improve his or her fitness level, then it is recommend that on any given day, that person combine the slower and faster training regimens (two workouts in one day). In addition to enhancing the system's effect on the person's fitness level, the mixing of fitness training regimens has the added benefit of keeping the routines dynamic and challenging. Moreover, the human body adapts to performing the same routine repetitively, becoming efficient at performing at a particular level. By changing the fitness training regimen at each workout, the system described in the present invention promotes improvement and prevents what some athletes refer to as reaching a “plateau” in his or her ability.
The predetermined fitness training regimens from chart 20 never involve an exercise routine of walking or running more than 10 minutes at a time. The training regimen defined by 1-minute workout routines takes approximately 20 minutes to accomplish—10 repetitions of 1 minute each, plus a 1-minute rest interval between each repetition. The regimen defined by 2-minute workout routines takes approximately 34 to 36 minutes. The regimen defined by 3-minute workout routines takes approximately 45 to 48 minutes. The regimen defined by 5-minute workout routines takes approximately 55 minutes to one hour, and the regimen defined by a 10-minute workout routine lasts 10 minutes because only 1 repetition is needed. Accordingly, the longest training regimen lasts approximately 1 hour, but no one exercise routine within a regimen lasts more than 10 minutes.
The system 10 of the present invention may be used in a number of settings. Whether the person using the system prefers exercising outside or on a treadmill, the system 10 will accommodate both. On a programmable treadmill, as described in greater detail below, maintaining the correct pace for a particular workout routine is accomplished through the treadmill. When applying the system to outdoor workouts, the right hand column of the chart, indicating pace (minutes/mile), helps monitor the workout routines of a training regimen. In the level 5 example, the person performing a particular training regimen on a treadmill can monitor his or her pace or simply program the treadmill to operate at the correct speed. If the same person walking outdoors is performing the 5 mph workout (1 minute), then he or she will note that the fitness training regimen requires an exercise routine at a fast walking pace of 12 minutes per mile, or 3 minutes for each time around a standard ¼ mile track.
The fitness training regimens (and their respective workout routines) determined by the slide 30 and chart 20 represent the recommended maximum number of repetitions. If the person is not able to reach the recommended maximum number of repetitions for the day, he or she should not be discouraged or change the regimen or its component workout routines. The system 10 was designed to be challenging. Because each person is different, a particular training regimen may be more difficult to complete than another. The key to succeeding and improving is to continue working toward that maximum number of repetitions.
The fitness system 10 of the present invention helps a person improve his or her fitness level. In order to determine whether a person has improved sufficient to train at the next fitness level, the person may re-test at any point. Walking or running at the person's maximum performance level for a time between 1 and 10 minutes and measuring the speed or distance covered, and then following the previously described steps, the person can determine whether he or she is performing at a higher level. Another simple way to test whether a person is ready for the next level is to choose one of the person's four top workout speeds (the 1, 2, 3 or 5-minute workout routine speed), and then test whether he or she can walk or run a repetition at that speed for sufficient additional time to reach the next fitness level.
FIG. 2A diagrammatically illustrates a portable electronic device 120 for implementing the processes of the present invention. The portable device may be hand-held as illustrated in FIG. 2A or may be designed to be strapped to apparel or shoes, or may be designed to be worn around the arm, wrist, ankle or neck. The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2A includes a display 100, user inputs 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, and around-shaped exterior body 112. The exterior of the device may also use other shapes. The display can be a liquid crystal display, an alphanumeric display, or another like-display as is known in the art. The user input 102 is a keypad having numerals 1 through 10 to allow a user to input data for use of the present invention. Button 108 may be used to start and stop a timer, for example when used during an exercise routine. Button 10 may be used to reset a timer or to power the device on and off. FIG. 2B diagrammatically illustrates a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of the circuitry for the device. The circuitry for the fitness device 120 includes a microprocessor 122, a ROM 124, a RAM 126, a user input interface 128, a display interface 130 and a bus 134 which interconnects the components. The display interface 130 is coupled to the display 132 and may include a driver circuit. The driver circuit controls output at the display 100 in response to output from the microprocessor 122. The user input interface 128 is coupled to the keypad 136 and the timer buttons 138. The user input interface 128 detects inputs from the keypad 102 and from the timer buttons 138 and notifies the microprocessor of such inputs via bus 134. The ROM 124 stores the computer program which controls the operation of the microprocessor and includes the information contained in the chart and slide of FIGS. 1B through 1D, and other constants necessary to calculate a person's fitness level and provide exercise routines for the user based on that fitness level. The RAM 126 stores data inputted by a user, the results of calculations, other information necessary for the operation of the system 120, and information regarding a particular user. RAM 126 is typically non-volatile or provided independent power so as to preserve the data contained therein.
FIG. 2C is a flow diagram illustrating the operation of the electronic device 120 incorporating the present invention. For the sake of clarity in the following description, the operation of the system of the present invention will not include the detail previously provided in connection with FIGS. 1B through 1D. A user can turn the device on by pressing button 110. In order to avoid accidental power loss, button 110 can be such that user input interface 128 only sends a power on or off control signal to microprocessor 122 if the button has been held down for a predetermined amount of time, for example, 3 seconds. Alternatively, for a power off mode, the program controlling processor 122 may have a routine that tests for the proper input from button 110 for a predetermined period of time at which the program terminates properly and shuts down the device. After powering up, in a simple program, the program displays a proper message giving the user notice that system is operable at step 140. The introductory part of the system maybe modified to allow for use by more than one person. For example, after power up, the program can prompt the user through the display 132 to enter a user number 1 through 10 using keypad 102. If that user had used the device 120 in the past, that particular user's fitness level and/or previously performed exercise regimens could be displayed next. At step 140, the user is prompted to enter information regarding that user's performance during the measuring step. Alternatively, at step 140, the program may prompt the user to begin an exercise routine such that the program is utilized as a stop watch. At the end of performing an exercise routine, the user would press STOP to end the measuring period. Assuming that the user is inputting information about the last exercise routine, at step 140, the program prompts the user to select from an input of distance, speed and time. The user then selects one of the three using the keypad 102, after which the processor 120 determines which variable was selected and prompts the user to input that data using keypad 102. The inputted information is saved in RAM. The program then prompts the user to select another input from the two remaining performance variables. The user selects from among the two remaining variables and the program prompts the user to input that information using the keypad 102. That information is also stored in RAM. With two performance variables, the microprocessor computes the fitness level of the user at step 142. The microprocessor then sends the fitness level output to the display at 144. The program can either prompt the user to continue or simply display the information on a part of display 100.
The program can be programmed to display both the fitness level and one or more of the 5 training regimens at once. Alternatively, it can display the fitness level, with a user prompt requesting the user to select a training regimen from among a 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10-minute regimens. The functional steps of computing the fitness level 142, displaying the fitness level 144, computing alternative fitness training regimens 146 and displaying the fitness regimens 148 can be accomplished sequentially, or simultaneously, as represented by functional block 160. At step 150, the user selects from among the training regimens. The program saves this information in order to later prompt the user that he or she has already selected this training regimen if the user seeks another training regimen to perform. At step 152, the user performs the selected training regimen. Step 152 may be iterated during performance of the selected training regimen to account for each exercise routine within a particular regimen. Hence, the device 120 may display information regarding completion of exercise routines within the selected regimen so as to inform the user of his or her progress. Alternatively, the device 120 of the present embodiment may not include this step, as it will be performed by the user independent of the device. As a further enhancement or alternative, device 120 may include a program routine that is used to time the performance of the exercise routines and the rest intervals. For example, after selecting the training regimen, the program may prompt the user to press the START button 104 at the beginning of a particular routine within the regimen, and press the STOP button 106 at the end of the routine. For training regimens requiring repetition of exercise routines, the program may also include a timing sequence which prompts the user when the rest interval or period between routines is over. Accordingly, if a particular training regimen calls for 5 routines each lasting 5 minutes, the program prompts the user to begin the next exercise routine after a 5-minute rest interval.
After the user performs the selected training regimen at step 152, the program prompts the user whether he or she is done at step 154. If YES, then the program terminates normally and shuts down the device. If NO, then the program prompts the user as to whether he or she will be re-measuring the fitness level at decision point 156. If NO, the program re-displays the training regimens applicable to the user's fitness level and prompts the user to select the next training regimen he or she will be performing. Again, although illustrated in the flow diagram as returning to block 160, the program may include instructions to display only the training regimens which have yet to be selected by the user, i.e., removing from the available regimens the previously completed regimens. This will encourage the user to mix the training regimens performed for his or her fitness level.
If the user at decision block 156 decides to re-measure his or her fitness level, then the program may include instructions to display what performance must be achieved by the user to reach the next fitness level at step 158. This may be accomplished by the program prompting the user to select from among a measuring test lasting from 1 minute to 10 minutes. Upon the user selecting the test time, the program can then display the speed at which the user must walk or run and the distance that must be covered to reach the next level. After displaying the performance required for the next level, the program may also include instructions similar for a regular exercise routine wherein the user is prompted to press START and STOP during the actual performance of the measuring step. The program then proceeds to prompt the user for the test information at step 140. If the user used device 120 to time the test-measuring walk or run, the program may prompt the user to input the distance covered during the walk or run. As will be appreciated from the explanation of the exercise system of the present invention, using a programmable electronic device 120 will allow greater flexibility in the testing and training regimens because the programming will calculate the fitness level and proper training regimens. For example, if the user ran as hard as he or she could for 2½ minutes rather than a rounded 2 minutes or 3 minutes, upon inputting the distance covered, the program of the present device can calculate the speed at which the user walked or ran, and thus calculate the fitness level. The details regarding programming required for proper microprocessor recognition of inputs, and driver circuits for outputs are omitted for simplicity as these are known in the art.
FIG. 3 illustrates the general configuration of a programmable treadmill incorporating the system of the present invention into its program. Programmable treadmills are known in the art. U.S. Pat. No. 6,095,951 to Showronski, et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 6,626,803 to Oglesby, et al., disclose a microprocessor based exercise treadmill control systems, the teachings of which are incorporated herein by reference. Referring to FIG. 3, the treadmill of the present invention includes the standard equipment found on such treadmills, such as a control panel 202 with a set of displays 204, 206, and a set of workout control interfaces 208, 210. Typically, the control interfaces are buttons, but can be embodied in a number of different ways, including a touch screen. The control interface allows the user to turn the treadmill's power on and off, control the speed at which it runs, control the incline and decline if the treadmill is equipped with such lift capability, and in some instances comes with pre-programmed exercise routines. In FIG. 3, control panel 202 is secured to the frame structure 216 via support members 214 at either side and operatively connected to a control system. The control system is operatively connected to the motor and is capable of being programmed with instructions for the operation of the treadmill. Additionally, many come with a standard emergency cutoff 210 such that if the user falls from the treadmill belt and deck 212, the treadmill belt stops moving. Typical treadmills have a frame structure 216 that includes two rotatable pulleys positioned substantially parallel to each other, and a pair of spaced apart longitudinal frame members for providing longitudinal structural support for the frame structure. The treadmill is also equipped with a motor for rotating at least one of the pulleys and a belt 212 secured over the pulleys. When the motor turns the pulley, the belt moves in a longitudinal direction.
The system of the present invention may be programmed into the microprocessor based controller of the treadmill to perform the process of the present invention. As shown in the prior art, the control system of the treadmill controls an AC motor that determines the speed at which the treadmill belt moves. The control system uses a microprocessor based controller to control the operation of the system. The control system also governs operation of the display panel, the user interface, the motor controller for the belt speed, the motor controller for the incline and decline, a failsafe cutoff switch, a heart monitoring input, and other inputs and outputs typically found on a treadmill.
FIG. 5 diagrammatically illustrates an embodiment of the display panel 202 for a treadmill programmed with the system of the present invention. This embodiment is for illustration purposes. The system of the present invention may be incorporated into programmable treadmills having a display that displays the steps explained in connection with use of the system as described with the chart 20 and slide 30 and the hand held electronic device of FIG. 2A. The display panel 202 illustrated in FIG. 5 includes four displays 220, 222, 224 and 226 which provide the user information about his or her fitness level, the distance for a particular exercise routine, the speed of the routine and the length of time for the routine, respectively. Adjacent to the four displays are 5 user input keys 230 labeled 1 through 5 corresponding to the prescribed or determined training regimens for a particular fitness level. To the right of the 5 input keys are 5 indicating lamps or LEDs 232 used to indicate what routines have been selected in the past. Included are input buttons for start 234, stop 236 and test 238. In addition, user display 248 displays information about the user. Because the panel of a treadmill provides more space for user inputs and outputs, the treadmill panel may provide information to the user as he or she is performing the test for measuring the fitness level as well as during the performance of an exercise routine within a training regimen based on that user's fitness level. Along the left of the panel 202 are displays for elapsed time 240, distance 242, heart rate 244 and incline angle 246, which are typically found on programmable treadmills. The programmable treadmill, in addition to incorporating programming instructions to carry out the fitness system of the present invention, may also incorporate programming instructions which allow each user to save his or her personal information such that that person is able to continue with the fitness system 10 of the present invention at another time. The treadmill may also be used without the fitness system of the present invention.
The present invention may also be embodied in a computer-readable medium such as a software program than can be sold for use in a personal computer, or a program available via a computer network such as the Internet, or for downloading into a personal digital assistant. FIG. 5 diagrammatically illustrates a block diagram of a computer system that can be used to implement a computer readable medium embodiment of the present invention. The computer system 300 of FIG. 5 includes multiple processors, such as processor 302. The processors 302 are connected to a communication bus or infrastructure 304 (e.g., a communications bus, cross-over bar, or network). At least one cache (not shown) is also connected to the communication infrastructure 304. Various software embodiments are described in terms of this exemplary computer system 300. After reading this description, it will become apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art(s) how to implement the invention using other computer systems and/or computer architectures.
The computer system 300 can include a display interface 306 that forwards graphics, text, and other data from the communication infrastructure 304 (or from a frame buffer not shown) for display on the display monitor 306 or other display unit 308. The computer system 300 includes main memory 310. Main memory 310 may be random access memory (RAM), and may also include a secondary memory. The secondary memory may include, a hard disk drive 312, a removable memory storage device interface 314, representing a floppy disk drive, a magnetic tape drive, an optical disk drive, etc. The removable memory storage device interface 314 reads from and/or writes to a removable memory storage unit 316 in a manner well known to those having ordinary skill in the art. Removable memory storage unit 316, represents a floppy disk, magnetic tape, optical disk, etc., which is read by and written to by removable storage device interface 314. As will be appreciated, the removable memory storage unit 316 includes a computer usable storage medium having stored therein computer software and/or data. In alternative embodiments, the secondary memory may include other similar means for allowing computer programs or other instructions to be loaded into the computer system 300. Such means may include, for example, a removable storage unit and an interface. Examples of such may include a program cartridge and cartridge interface (such as that found in video game devices), a removable memory chip (such as an EPROM, or PROM) and associated socket, and other removable storage units and interfaces which allow software and data to be transferred from the removable storage unit to the computer system 300.
The computer system 300 may also include a communications interface 320. Communications interface 320 allows software and data to be transferred between the computer system and external devices. Examples of communications interface 320 may include a modem, a network interface (such as an Ethernet card), a communications port, a PCMCIA slot and card, etc. Software and data transferred via communications interface 320 are in the form of signals which may be, for example, electronic, electromagnetic, optical, or other signals capable of being received by communications interface 320. These signals are provided to communications interface 320 via a communications path (i.e., channel) 324. This channel 324 carries signals and may be implemented using wire or cable, fiber optics, a phone line, a cellular phone link, an RF link, and/or other communications channels.
The terms “computer program medium,” “computer-usable medium,” “machine-readable medium” and “computer-readable medium” are used to generally refer to media such as primary or main memory 310 and secondary memory 311, removable storage device interface 314, a hard disk installed in hard disk drive 312, and signals. These computer program products are means for providing software to the computer system. The computer-readable medium allows the computer system to read data, instructions, messages or message packets, and other computer-readable information from the computer-readable medium. The computer-readable medium, for example, may include non-volatile memory, such as Floppy, ROM, Flash memory, Disk drive memory, CD-ROM, and other permanent storage. By way of example, it is useful for transporting information, such as data and computer instructions, between computer systems. The computer-readable medium may include computer-readable information in a transitory state medium such as a network link and/or a network interface, including a wired network or a wireless network, that allow a computer to read such computer-readable information. Computer programs (also called computer control logic) are stored in main memory 310 and/or secondary memory 311. Computer programs may also be received via communications interface 320. Such computer programs, when executed, enable the computer system to perform the features of the present invention as discussed herein. In particular, the computer programs, when executed, enable the processor 302 to perform the features of the computer system. Accordingly, such computer programs represent controllers of the computer system.
The microprocessor based controller of the treadmill, the portable programmable electronic device or the computer readable medium application may be realized in a number of combinations of hardware, software or a combination of the two. An embodiment of the present invention can be embedded in a computer program product that includes all the features enabling implementation of the methods described herein, and which, when loaded in a system, is able to carry out these methods. A computer program as used in the present invention indicates any expression, in any language, code or notation, of a set of instructions intended to cause a system having an information processing capability to perform a particular function either directly or after either or both of the following: (1) a conversion to another language, code or notation; and (2) reproduction in a different material form. A system may include, inter alia, one or more information processing systems and/or computer processors and at least a machine-readable or computer-readable medium, allowing a system to read data, instructions, messages or message packets, and other information form the machine-readable or computer-readable medium.
Although specific embodiments of the invention have been disclosed, those having ordinary skill in the art will understand that changes can be made to the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Still other embodiments may be constructed. The scope of the invention is not to be restricted, therefore, to the specific embodiments. It is intended that the appended claims cover any and all such applications, modifications, and embodiments within the scope and spirit of the present invention.