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How can I measure the intensity of my exercise?

To measure the intensity of your exercise you should measure your heart rate. Aerobic exercise can be low, moderate or high intensity. To determine your goal heart rate at these levels you must first determine your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age. Once you have determined your maximum heart rate, 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate is the target for moderate intensity exercise, and 70-85% is the target for vigorous intensity. If you are not used to working out, you may want to shoot for the lower end and gradually work up to the higher end.

There are several ways to measure the intensity of exercise. The most popular way is to assess heart rate. During exercise, take 15 seconds and count your pulse rate. Multiple that number by 4 to get your current heart rate. The higher your heart rate the more intense the exercise is.  Considering that your max heart rate is 220-age, the close your measured heart rate is to your max the more intense the exercise is. For example, if your max heart rate is 185 (220-age(35)) and your measured heart rate is 165 beats per minute you are working at a higher intensity than if your heart rate was 140 beats per minute.

Another method is RPE or rating of perceived exertion. This is a simple scale of which you can point on a line to provide a guesstimate for how intense you are working. This scale can be found on the internet and is useful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.