Tips for Monitoring Aerobic Exercise Intensity

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “substantial health benefits are gained when adults achieve 150 – 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 – 150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity exercise per week.” The Talk Test, Heart Rate monitoring, Rating your Perceived Effort and the use of motion sensors and devices are methods of monitoring exercise intensity.

4 Ways to Monitor your Aerobic Exercise Intensity

1.  Talk Test is a way to gauge exercise intensity based on ability to carry on a conversation

Steady conversation associated with moderate intensity exercise.  Vigorous intensity is an exercise intensity where only a few words are understandable.

2.  Heart Rate can be monitored by a wrist watch and chest strap or a smart watch

  • A percentage of maximal heart rate indicates intensity (%HRmax)
  • Moderate intensity exercise is estimated at 65 – 75 %HRmax
  • Vigorous exercise is 76 – 96 %HRmax
  • Target Heart Rate = (220 – age) X %HRmax

3.  Perceived effort is subjective method to monitor how hard exercise feels

  • Commonly reported as a rating of perceive exertion (RPE)
  • Scale is a range between 0 – 10
  • Moderate intensity exercise is targeting a RPE of 4 – 6
  • Vigorous intensity exercise is targeting a RPE of 7 – 8

4.  Motion sensors are devices used to track steps and other activities

  • Moderate intensity exercise is a step rate of 100 steps per minute, or 1,000 per 10 minutes
  • A common recommendation is to achieve 3,000 steps in 30 minutes
  • Vigorous intensity is > 100 Steps per minute

Using these methods help adults achieve physical activity goals

Source: American College of Sports Medicine

Author: Micah Zuhl, Ph.D; 2020