HealthWorks! Healthy Living Series: Exercise Intensity
by The Center for Better Health and Nutrition/HealthWorks! at Cincinnati Children’s
Chris Kist, Exercise Program Director: “When you exercise, how hard should you be working?
We try to break it up into 3 Intensity levels: Light, moderate vigorous.
Exercising at the correct intensity can help you get the most out of your workout — making sure you’re not pushing too hard or too little is key. Your exercise intensity generally should be at a moderate or vigorous level for the most benefit.
Since exercise intensity varies from person to person, it’s hard to set easy clear rules for everyone.
One way to figure out if you’re exercising hard enough during aerobic exercise is to check your pulse. A monitor of some sort is the best way to do this. Your heart rate is a good indicator of how hard you’re working, and if you’re not hitting a certain rate, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough.
To calculate your maximum heart rate, you need to subtract your age from 220. Generally, you want your heart rate to stay between 50 to 70 percent of its maximum for moderate exercise and 70 t0 90 percent for vigorous exercise.
This is a great way to track your intensity, however we don’t always have an accurate way to measure our heart rate during exercise.
So here are a few other methods we can use as well.
Rating of perceived exertion, or RPE:
– On a scale of 0 to 10, where sitting is a 0 and the highest level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to10.
Typically, you will notice shortness of breath at a moderate intensity.
Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. You will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing to take a breath. If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will typically be sweaty, cheeks red, heart beating fast, etc.
The “Talk Test” is another easy way to determine exercise intensity. You want to be at the point where you can’t talk clearly during exercise. This is typically referred to as the “anaerobic threshold.”
Studies show that pushing yourself slightly past your comfort zone is useful for improving your cardiorespiratory fitness level.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents should have 60 minutes (or 1 hour) or more of Moderate to Vigorous physical activity every single day.
Aerobic exercise at least 3 days a week. Muscle-strengthening exercises at least 3 days a week. And bone-strengthening at least 3 days a week.
This could be accomplished by using multiple bouts of exercise throughout the day.
Start at a light intensity if you’re new to exercising. Gradually build up to a moderate or vigorous intensity slowly.
Exercise intensity is very individualized, so what may be hard for you might not be hard to others. So listen to what your body is telling you, and back off if needed.
Starting too hard, to0 fast can cause injury, and then you won’t be exercising at all. And we don’t want that.”
The funding for these videos was in part provided by Master Han and the Han’s White Tiger Tae Kwon Do Annual Break-A-Thon. Thank you!