Practical, easy to follow home fitness and exercise

Measuring the Intensity of Exercise and Physical Activity

How fast is fast enough on the treadmill or elliptical? How far to jog? The intensity of strength training, resistance training and anaerobic training is measured by the amount of weight used and the number of repetitions and sets performed. The intensity of aerobic activity is measured differently, since its primary effect is on the heart, lungs and  cardiovascular system; and primarily affects heart rate and breathing.

Moderate Intensity

The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity, you can talk but not sing during the activity.

  • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour on primarily flat or level terrain without hills
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening

Vigorous Intensity

In general, if you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

  • Race walking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster that may include hills
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

Other Methods of Measuring Intensity

If you want to get more scientific and more precise, you can use these methods: