Determining Exercise Intensity

Determining Exercise Intensity


If you’re new to exercise and looking to start a new training program, you may be wondering what intensity level is appropriate for your goals and your level of fitness. Many people are unsure of what intensity levels are defined and avoid exercises labeled vigorous intensity due to fear of injury or lack of ability. As a personal trainer and exercise physiologist, it is my job to help explain these terms and concepts in a more understandable way. In this article, I will discuss light, moderate, and vigorous intensity so that you, as a physically active person, are more educated and comfortable with what you are doing in your daily exercises. It is recommended that most healthy adults perform a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise, while light to moderate exercises should be performed by people who are unconditioned. The intensity is based individually, which means that your intensity level is based on your physical abilities and not generally on the abilities of others. Ideally, you would like a professional in the field to determine your intensity levels based on a guided fitness test, but I will provide you with information that will allow you to obtain an estimate without such resources. To do this, we will use what is known as the target human resource reserve method. This method begins with HR reserve, which is defined as the difference in your resting heart rate and your maximum HR. Your HR reserve is multiplied by the appropriate intensity percentage you are targeting, then your resting HR is added to obtain your target HR reserve. Below, I have demonstrated the moderate intensity exercise method for myself.

1) To find your estimated maximum HR, subtract your age from 220.

220-22 = 198 bpm. My estimated maximum HR is 198 beats per minute.

2) To find your resting heart rate, use a radial pulse or HR monitor. My HR at rest is 60 beats per minute. I will now subtract my resting HR from my estimated maximum heart rate to determine my heart rate reserve.

198 – 60 = 138 beats per minute.

3) Now I must use the heart rate reserve (HRR) and multiply it by the percentage equivalent to the intensity you intend to achieve.

to. Light intensity <50% HRR

yes. Moderate intensity 50-70% HRR

C. Vigorous intensity 70% -85% HRR

In this case, I would like to exercise at moderate intensity. So I will multiply my HRR by 50% to get my lowest HR value and then by 70% so that my highest value stays within that range for moderate intensity.

138 beats per minute X.50 = 69 beats per minute.

138 beats per minute X.70 = 96.6 beats per minute.

4) The last step in this process to get your final target HR reserve range is to add your resting HR to the HRR percentage. This allows the equation to consider your resting cardiovascular endurance level and adjust accordingly. Below, I have demonstrated how to do this and have found my HRR target range for moderate intensity exercise.

69 beats per minute + 60 beats per minute = 129 beats per minute

96.6 beats per minute + 60 beats per minute = 156.6 beats per minute.

HR target range for moderate intensity = 129 bpm – 156.6 bpm.

Benefits of light intensity exercise

Light intensity exercise is very beneficial for older adults. It allows them to be physically active when there may be physical limitations or health problems that prevent moderate or vigorous activity. Light intensity is considered to be just under 50% of the target heart rate reserve and provides many health benefits, especially for people who are under conditions. A study by Oregon State University, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, showed a significant increase in the health of older people, who participated in light physical activities such as walking. These individuals were less likely to develop chronic diseases and had lower body mass index measurements.

Benefits of moderate intensity exercise

Moderate intensity exercise is the most beneficial form of exercise. It produces an enormous number of health benefits, from low blood pressure, improved cholesterol, weight control, cancer prevention, and much more. Moderate intensity is recommended for all adults unless restricted by a doctor. The moderate intensity ranges from 50% to 70% of the target HR reserve and can be achieved by doing many activities, such as brisk walking, leisurely cycling, water aerobics, and dancing. There are a wide range of ways you can be physically active and reap the benefits of moderate intensity, but it starts with the first step.

Benefits of vigorous intensity exercise

Vigorous intensity exercise is recommended for adults who are habitually physically active and with at least an average level of fitness. Vigorous intensity is not raising strength or running at an Olympic pace. Vigorous intensity activities include jogging, rowing, elliptical, fast dancing, and aerobics. The target human resource reserve percentage is anything between 70% -85%. It is recommended that if you have a history of health-related or middle-aged problems obtain the authorization of your doctor before vigorous activity. Vigorous intensity has similar benefits to moderate intensity, but it also comes with an increased risk of injury. It is recommended that the average adult achieve a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity to achieve the maximum benefits of exercise.

Now what?

In conclusion, you should know that intensity levels are important, but they are not as intimidating as they seem. ACSM recommends that a healthy adult do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both, each day for ≥3 to 5 days per week. It is also recommended that if you only participate in moderate intensity, do so 5 ≥ days a week and if you only participate in vigorous intensity, 3 ≥ days a week. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your current level of fitness and your ability to do vigorous intensity exercise. I hope you can take when mentioned above and use it as a resource on your journey for optimal wellness.




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