Exercise intensity

The intensity of a physical activity refers to how much energy your body uses when you do that activity. This is measured by the number of calories you burn.

There are several ways of measuring the intensity of a particular activity:

The Talk Test

Low-intensity activity

You should be able to carry on a conversation during the exercise

  • Walking at a casual pace
  • Cycling at a casual pace
  • Stretching routine

Moderate-intensity activity

You will be able to talk but not sing during the exercise

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling (flat surface)

High-intensity activity

You will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath

Running

Fast swimming

Football, rugby, netball or hockey

Percentage (%) of Maximum Heart Rate

A slightly more complicated way to measure intensity is to count your heart rate during exercise and work out how this relates to your maximum heart rate.  Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. You can count this by feeling your pulse at your wrist or neck.

Your maximum heart rate depends on your age. It is usually calculated as 220 minus your age. For example:

Maximum heart rate calculation for person aged 40:

220 - age = maximum heart rate (bpm)
220 - 40 = 180 beats per minute

The table below shows the heart rates corresponding to different levels of intensity:

INTENSITY OF ACTIVITY AND DURATION OF ACTIVITY Estimate for maximum heart rate = 220 - age DURATION OF ACTIVITY 0 – 20 minutes: Short duration 20 minutes to 1 hour: Medium duration Greater than 1 hour: Long duration (or endurance) INTENSITY OF ACTIVITY Low intensity: Up to 40% of maximum heart rate: general activities, not tired or out of breath, e.g., resting, activities of daily living, slow walk. Minimal effect on blood glucose level. Moderate intensity: 40 – 80% of maximum heart rate: general activities, will feel warm and moderately out of breath, e.g., jogging, cycling and fast walking. Blood glucose falls up to 20 – 30 mins post-exercise. High intensity: 80 – 100% of maximum heart rate: general activities which an individual will not be able to maintain for longer than a few minutes, e.g., sprinting. Rise in blood glucose level. Intermittent high intensity: Typically characterises many popular sports with periods of low or moderate exercise intensity interspersed with bursts of high intensity activity, e.g., football, hockey, rugby, netball etc. Likely also to reflect some fitness classes and gym work. Steady fall in blood glucose levels.



Comments:

  1. Comment by Scott. M. on 15/08/2022 at 3:24 PM

    Change
    % of Maximum Heart Rate
    to
    Percentage (%) of Maximum Heart Rate




  2. Comment by Scott. M. on 15/08/2022 at 3:26 PM

    Current:
    Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.

    Change to
    Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. You can count this through feeling your pulse at your wrist or neck.




  3. Comment by Kirsten. C. on 22/08/2022 at 2:03 PM

    Changed




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