How to measure/estimate the intensity of exercise?

Measuring the intensity of aerobic exercise, such as walking, is important to reach adequate level of exercise volume (product of duration and intensity) which will help you reap the myriad benefits of exercise

Recommended level of aerobic exercise for adults is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise/week

The two methods accepted for measuring the intensity of exercise, which are complementary to each other are;the subjective method, namely ‘perceived intensity of exercise’ and the objective ‘% of estimated MHR’

Perceived intensity of exercise

You have to imagine a 10 point scale where 10 is the hardest level of exercise and 1 is the easiest and give a score on that scale, to your exercise episode; a score of 5-6 is moderate intensity and 7-8 is vigorous intensity. As you can imagine, this method leaves room for over or underestimation of effort, therefore you should combine this with

% of eMHR method given below

% of eMHR (estimated Maximum Heart Rate)  or workout heart rate method

  1. Estimate Your age appropriate Maximum Heart Rate (MHR):

Your MHR = 220- your age

  1. Calculate your target range for moderate or vigorous level of exercise:

For moderate intensity exercise: you need to achieve a heart rate range of 50-70% of your MHR

For vigorous exercise: you need to achieve a heart rate range of 70-85% of your MHR

e.g..: I am 36 years of age, so

My MHR= 200-36= 164

For moderate intensity exercise, I have to achieve a heart rate range of : 82 (50% of 164) to 115(70% of 164)

  1. While exercising, monitor your heart take periodically, to make sure you achieve your target rate

Taking Your Heart Rate
You must stop exercising briefly to take your pulse.You can feel the radial pulse on the artery of the wrist in line with the thumb. Place the tips of the index and middle fingers over the artery and press lightly. Do not use the thumb. Start the count on a beat, which is counted as “zero”. Then, count the beats for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 or for 15 seconds and multiply by 4

e.g. a heart beat count of 22 over 15 seconds would mean 22*4=88 bpm, which means I am doing moderate intensity exercise

There a many heart rate measuring fitness devices as well as mobile phone applications available which can help you in keeping track of your heart rate while exercising with ease, check them out

Incorporate these methods of estimating intensity in your work out to be more effective ans sure footed, happy exercising!

CHECK OUT: Our references for exercise recommendations