Summer Bucket List: Unplug Your Workout

Over the last few years the market has been flooded by devices, gadgets and apps all designed to get us moving and fitter than ever. While some of these might have role for some, add a new item to your summer bucket list and leave the fancy new gadget behind.

Many of us have become slaves to technology checking our phones constantly for email or updates on social media. Personally, I look forward to an hour of exercise when I can take a break from all the technology that rules our lives. I don’t want an app to constantly monitor to telling me to run faster, harder or farther.

Here are some guidelines regarding intensity during exercise regardless of the specific activity; tailor it to your own goals & needs.

To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week – or a combination of the two for adults. But what exactly do moderate and vigorousexercise mean and how do you know if you’re working out at the right intensity?

There are a couple different ways to measure the level of intensity at which you are exercising and that level is based on your individual fitness level and overall health. Perceived exertion (PE) is how hard you feel like your body is working.   PE is based on the physical sensations you experience during physical activity, including:

  • Increased  heart rate,
  • Increased respiration or breathing rate,
  • Increased sweating, and
  • Muscle fatigue.

Ratings are on a scale from 0 to 20. Zero expresses how hard you’d be working if you were lying in bed and “20” relates to sprinting as fast as you possibly can. You can also use the “talk test” to estimate your relative intensity. In general, most people are able to talk or hold a conversation during moderately intense activities.

By comparison, holding a conversation or saying more than a few words before stopping to take a breath is more difficult during vigorous activities. During your workout, use the PE Scale to assign numbers to how you feel. Self-monitoring how hard your body is working can help you adjust the intensity of the activity by speeding up or slowing down your movements.

Through experience of monitoring how your body feels, it will become easier to know when to adjust your intensity.

  • Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, moderate-intensity physical activity is usually 11-14 on a scale of 1 to 20.
  • Vigorous-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, vigorous-intensity physical activity is usually 17-19 on a scale of 1 to 20.

Examples of Moderate Intensity:

  • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening

Examples of Vigorous Intensity:

  • Race walking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

For example, if you are a walker and you want to get moderate-intensity activity, you would aim for a RPE level of 12-13 to get the recommended level of activity by the AHA. If your muscle fatigue and breathing seems about an 8, then you would want to increase your intensity. On the other hand, if your exertion was about a 15, you would need to slow down to achieve the moderate-to-vigorous intensity range.

Here’s to crossing off your bucket list items!

Dr Green

Ref: American Heart Association