Exercise Challenge Week 4: That’s Intense

Understanding Intensity:

When we talk about exercise intensity, we are talking about how ‘hard’ you are exercising. We typically describe exercise intensity as low, moderate, or vigorous. We have previously mentioned that you want to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise a week. But what does this mean?

We determine intensity through a variety of measurements. Today we will talk about three: Target heart rate, the talk test, and the perceived exertion scale.

Target Heart Rate:

We know that our heart rate typically increases as the intensity of exercise increases. Therefore, you can track and guide your intensity by calculating something we call the Target Heart Rate (THR) range. To be considered moderate, your THR should be 50-70% of your maximum heart rate, which is just 220 minus your age. Here is an example chart with some ages and the THR associated with each age.

Age (years) Target range (50 – 70% of maxHR) heart beats per minute
20 100 – 140
25 98 – 137
30 95 – 133
35 93 – 130
40 90 – 126
45 88 – 123
50 85 – 119
55 83 – 116
60 80 – 112
65 78 – 109

Note: Some medications can alter your heart rate response to exercise, so make sure you discuss the medications you are taking and how they could affect your exercise plans with your doctor. It may be necessary to use another option for monitoring exercise intensity if you are taking certain medications.

The Talk Test:

The talk test is a simple, no numbers necessary method to determine your exercise intensity. As a rule of thumb:

  • If you can talk and sing without puffing at all, you’re exercising at a low level.
  • If you can comfortably talk, but not sing, you’re doing moderate intensity activity.
  • If you can’t say more than a few words without gasping for breath, you’re exercising at a vigorous intensity.

Perceived Exertion Scale:

The perceived exertion scale is a method of rating your intensity based on your body’s physical signs of exercise, such as your breathing rate, muscle fatigue, and sweating rate. Using a simple 0-10 scale, intensity is measured in the following manner:

Level Exertion Physical signs
0 None None
1 Minimal None
2 Barely there Sensation of movement
3 Moderate Stronger sensation of movement
4 Somewhat hard Warmth or light sweating
5 Hard Sweating
6 Harder Moderate sweating
7 Very hard Moderate sweating, but can still talk
8 Extremely hard Heavy sweating, can’t talk
9 Maximum effort Very heavy sweating, can’t talk
10 Maximum effort Exhaustion

Week 4 Workout

Workout Link (38:00 workout)

Weekly Challenge:

That’s Intense: Measuring Your Exercise Intensity Challenge

Why It’s Important: Understanding how hard we are exercising allows us to know when to push ourselves and when to take it a bit easier. We can also use increased intensity in our workouts to increase our caloric burn, leading to more weight loss!

Your Challenge: During your workouts this week, aim for at least two workouts at moderate intensity (50-70% of THR, you can talk but not sing, or 5-7 on the exertion scale). Moving forward, try to increase the number of moderate-intensity workouts each week until you have 4-5 a week.






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