Exercise Intensity Levels


More shots from the Jindai Botanical Garden. Gotta love those Lillies! 

My topic for today is exercise intensity. Over the last several years, I have seen a number of articles that talk about the benefits of vigorous exercise. I would like to cover that topic in some detail.

PLEASE USE CAUTION WHEN INCREASING YOUR  EXERCISE INTENSITY LEVEL! Start slowly and increase your intensity level gradually. Please check with your doctor with questions and concerns. It can also be beneficial to get help from a personal trainer, especially at the beginning. 

"Pre-exercise screening is used to identify people with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk of experiencing a health problem during physical activity. It is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you."

The information I am going to provide is from the following sites.

1)    Exercise intensity

a.     https://www.healthline.com/health/strenuous-exercise

b.     https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety

c.     https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-intensity

d.     https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/examples-of-vigorous-physical-activity#definition

e.   https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates 

f.   https://theathleteblog.com/calculate-maximum-heart-rate/

g.   https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916

h.   https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-intensity/art-20046887


I would first like to start by defining levels of exercise intensity.  Exercise intensity is typically defined as follows.

  1. Low intensity:
    1. Can easily talk and sing
  2. Moderate intensity
    1. Can talk with some breathlessness, but cannot sing
  3. Vigorous intensity
    1. Difficult to carry on a conversation.

Exercise intensity can also be determined by measuring one's heart rate. Here is how that information can be interpreted. 

  1. We first need to determine our maximum heart rate.
  2. One simple formula is 220 minus one's age. I am 66 years old. That puts my maximum heart rate at 154. 
  3.  Another formula is 207 - (.7 x age). For me, that is 207 - (.7 x 66)  = 161. 
  4. A third formula, adjusted for generally active people, is 211 - (.64 x age). For me, that is 169. 

Wow, that is quite a range! If we look at my run this morning, here are the details. The percentages are based on a maximum heart rate of 160.

  1. Maximum rate was 150 bpm. (94% of max. heart rate)
  2. Minimum rate was 76 bpm. (48% of max heart rate)
  3. Average heart rate was 104 bpm.  (65% of max heart rate))
  4. Time in Zone 1 (less than 115 bpm) = 37 minutes (65% of max heart rate)
  5. Time in Zone 2 (116-127) = 5 minutes. (76% of max heart rate)
  6. Time in Zone 3 (128-138) = 1.5 minutes. (83% of max heart rate)
  7. Time in Zone 4 (139-149) = 1 minute. (90% of max heart rate)
  8. Time in Zone 5 (150+) = 18 seconds. (94% of max heart rate)

To summarize the times from above, we get the following for the run this morning.

  1. Total run = 46 minutes.
  2. Average heart rate = 104 bpm, or 65% of max heart rate.
  3. 37 minutes were run at 65% of max heart rate.
  4. 8 minutes were run at 76-94% of max heart rate. 
  5. Based on these figures, if I run every day, I will do about one hour of vigorous exercise per week.

For my run on Monday, 8/14/23, my maximum heart rate was 159 bpm. My heart was working!

According to theathleteblog.com cited above, here are my suggested ranges. This is based on a maximum heart rate of 169.

  1. Zone 1: 50-60%: 108-120. (Moderate)
  2. Zone 2: 60-69%: 120-132. (Moderate)
  3. Zone 3: 70-80%: 132-145. (Vigorous)
  4. Zone 4: 80-90%: 145-157. (Vigorous)
  5. Zone 5: 90-100%: 157-169. (Vigorous)

If I use 160 as my maximum heart rate, my recommended ranges would be as follows. 

  1. Moderate: 50-69% (80-110) for at least 150 minutes per week
  2. Vigorous: 70-90% (112-144) for at least 75 minutes per week


Now, let's look at other recommendations.  

  1. One site recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
    1. 5 days per week = 45 minutes per day of total exercise.
    2. 7 days per week = 32 minutes per day of total exercise.
  2. Another site recommends 300 minutes or more per week of moderate aerobic activity. 
    1. 5 days per week = 60 minutes per day.
    2. 7 days per week = 43 minutes per day.



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