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  • Tips on managing Stress
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  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
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  • How to build personal motivation
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Sign up to the get fit newsletter
Sign up for the ''Get Fit'' Newsletter
  • Tips on managing Stress
  • Ways to stay motivated
  • The benefits of resistance training
  • How to improve your metabolism
  • Learn why "conventional" diets fail
  • How to target stubborn fat areas
  • Healthy and tasty recipes
  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
  • How to choose the right health club
  • Weight loss and diet myths revealed
  • Flexibility, how and when to stretch
  • How to build personal motivation
  • How to conquer procrastination
Email:
Name:
This Month In Body
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  • Jump Your Way to Fitness
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  • Is It Worth the Effort?
    You can exercise for a whole hour, but if you're walking at a leisurely pace you won't see quick results. Generally, the harder you exercise, the greater the intensity, and the more fitness gains and health improvements you'll see. Keep reading to learn the two main ways of measuring exercise intensity. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Is It Worth the Effort?

Make sure you're exercising at the right intensity to reap the benefits.

If you're making the effort to exercise, you want it to be worth your time. You can exercise for a whole hour, but if you're walking at a leisurely pace you won't see quick results. Current exercise guidelines advise adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise or one and a quarter hours of vigorous exercise each week plus at least two sessions of strength training. But how do you know what's considered moderate and what's vigorous? Folks new to the world of exercise may not know how to gauge the intensity of their workout.

Intensity refers to how hard your body has to work to exercise. Generally, the harder you exercise, the greater the intensity, and the more fitness gains and health improvements you'll see. Keep reading to learn the two main ways of measuring exercise intensity. Then use whichever method is easier for you to up your fitness gains.

How You Feel

What's vigorous for one person may be considered light or moderate for someone who's in great physical shape. So one way to measure the intensity of your workout is by how you feel. This is the more subjective method, but it can be helpful nonetheless. Also called a rating of perceived exertion, the level of intensity is determined by physical cues such as your ability to talk, how fast your breathing is, and how much you're sweating. Keep in mind beginners are prone to overestimate their intensity.

Moderate intensity exercise is somewhat challenging. You're not to the point of feeling out of breath yet, but your breathing is faster than usual. After about 10 minutes of exercise, you begin to sweat and you're still able to carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing along with your workout tunes. If you can still sing, it's time to pick up the pace.

You've reached vigorous intensity when your workout feels physically and psychologically challenging. Your breathing is fast and deep and it only takes a few minutes before you break out in a sweat. At this rate, you can't say more than two or three words at a time without needing to take a breath. You may be pushing yourself too hard at this level, so be careful. Slow down if you can't talk at all.

Target Heart Rate

A second way to gauge the intensity of your workout is by your heart rate. As you know, heart rate increases with activity. The harder you exercise, the higher your heart rate will be.

Starting with your maximum heart rate (the most your heart should ever beat per minute during exercise) you're able to find your target heart rate range for moderate and vigorous activity. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Once you've been exercising for 10 minutes, take your pulse by placing two fingers on your wrist below the thumb or on your carotid artery on the side of your neck. Count your heart rate for 15 seconds and multiply that number by four to get your beats per minute. Want something easier? Grab a fitness device and get your heart rate with convenient way.

A heart rate that's 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate falls in the moderate intensity zone. Get up between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and you’re getting vigorous exercise. Not sure where your heart rate falls on the percentage line? Find a target heart rate chart online for easy reference.