What are examples of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity?

Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
This is moderate-intensity activity:
  • You’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate.
  • You’re sweating.
  • You can talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.
Examples: brisk walking, riding your bike on level ground, doing water aerobics, playing doubles tennis

This is vigorous exercise:
  • You’re breathing hard and fast.
  • Your heart rate is significantly raised.
  • You can’t talk without pausing for a breath.
Examples: jogging, swimming laps, riding a bike hard or up hills, playing singles tennis

One minute of vigorous-intensity activity is roughly equal to two minutes of moderate-intensity activity. If you want to exercise at a more vigorous intensity, build up to it. As your fitness level increases, you might swap brisk walking for a slow jog, and then a full run.
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Moderate-intensity aerobic activity noticeably accelerates your heart rate. Examples of this type of activity include brisk walking, cycling at moderate speeds, mopping, or walking with a purpose. Moderate-intensity activity also generally “breaks a sweat.” As a general guideline, if you are doing moderate-intensity activity, you can usually talk, but cannot sing, during the activity. Whereas, if you are doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Vigorous activities include running, cycling at fast speeds, and swimming laps.
Moderate activity includes any type of activity in which the core body temperature is raised, and you sweat but can still carry on a conversation with someone. Vigorous exercise is an exercise so intense that you are only able to answer short yes or no type questions. This is known as the sing song test. With moderate exercise, you will be able to sing a song, or carry on a conversation and still be able to continue the activity. Examples would include a brisk walk, a nice hike, yoga, moderate intensity weight training, a light jog, washing the car, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn. Vigorous activity will be of a high enough intensity that you are only able to give short responses like yes or no answers to questions. Examples would include a fast jog or run, climbing a steep hill or mountain, strenuous weight training, carrying heavy bags of concrete and strenuous calisthenics. To maximize your health you should perform lots of moderate physical activity each day and incorporate some vigorous activity into your routine 2-3 times a week. The more activity and the more vigorous activity you perform the more fit you will become and the greater health you will experience. 
Yusuf Boyd, NASM Elite Trainer
Athletic Training

There are a lot of moderate activities that you can participate in. If you are looking for activities around the house, here are a few: shoveling snow, washing and waxing your car, raking leaves, etc. Going for a light walk/jog, a round of golf (carrying your bag), and ballroom dancing can all be considered moderate activities. Vigorous activities include high impact aerobics, bicycling at rate of 10 mph or greater, mountain climbing, circuit weight training, and most competitive sports.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

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.