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How intensely should I work out?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Moderately intense exercise is usually recommended for the average person. Pushing too hard increases the risk of injury and the likelihood that you might lose motivation. A good way to measure appropriate intensity is to check if you are developing a sweat, feeling some muscle strain, or breathing more quickly. One of the benefits of exercise is to get your heart pumping faster. Ideally, you should work out at about 70 percent of your target heart rate. Your target heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220, multiplying that by 0.7 for your lower range and by 0.85 for your upper range.

Workout intensity depends on a lot of factors, including your current fitness levels, your nutrition, rest, and fitness goals. The more fit you currently are the more intense your workouts need to be to increase fitness. A good guideline is that if you continue to see improvements in fitness from your workouts you are training at an appropriate intensity. If you see no improvements you are not working out at a high enough intensity, and if you see decreases in performance, are constantly sore or run down you are over training. Find the sweet spot that improves fitness but allows the body to recover from workouts.

You’ve probably heard “no pain, no gain” as a mantra of exercise. However, unless you’re Rocky Balboa, you can probably find some type of activity that is beneficial and fun. The key is to pick an activity that you enjoy and do it at a pace that is comfortable for you. You’ll be more likely to stick with your exercise plan if you take this approach.

There is no single perfect activity. There are some types that burn more calories, some that are particularly helpful for developing strength and flexibility, and others that are especially beneficial for your cardiovascular system.

 

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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.