The Mayo clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity spread throughout the week.
But what is considered moderate and what is vigorous? There are a number of ways to measure this. They include:
- Measuring Heart Rate
- Talk Test
- Exertion rating scale
Measuring your Heart Rate:
The human body has an in-built system to measure its exercise intensity – the heart. Your heart rate will increase in proportion to the intensity of your exercise. You can track and guide your exercise intensity by calculating your Target Heart Rate (THR) range.
For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person’s THR should be 50 to 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate. The maximum rate is based on a person’s age. An estimate of a person’s maximum heart rate can be calculated as 220 beats per minute (bpm) minus your age. Because it is an estimate, use it with caution.
This way of measuring is easiest if you have a fitness watch that will help you measure your heart rate.
The talk test is by far the easiest of the 3 methods. It’s not overly scientific but absolutely gets the job done. As a rule of thumb:
- If you can talk and sing without puffing at all, you’re exercising at a low level.
- If you can comfortably talk, but not sing, you’re doing moderate intensity activity.
- If you can’t say more than a few words without gasping for breath, you’re exercising at a vigorous intensity.
Exertion rating scale:
This method is based on observing your body’s physical signs during physical activity, including increased heart rate, increased respiration or breathing rate, increased sweating, and muscle fatigue. To keep within a moderate intensity, aim to experience the exercise signs 3–7 in the chart below.
Ok so know you understand how to measure your workout intensity and you know what the recommended amount is. What are some activities you can do to check off your cardio each week?
You likely first think of things like:
- Jumping Jacks
- Squat Jumps
- Stair Climbing
Yes. These are all examples of activities that can get your heart rate up and most require high impact on the joints. None of the above activities are inherently bad in any way but there are reasons you may be avoiding them. For many long bouts of high impact does not serve their bodies. Perhaps your joints don’t feel good after a high impact activity, maybe you just feel more tense? Maybe you just hate these types of activities with all your being. All are valid reasons to avoid high impact activities.
So what are your alternatives? So many!
- Brisk walking
- Water Aerobics
- Weight Training
There are general rules/ideas that help get the heart rate up. They include:
- Anything that works the whole body. If the whole body has to move the heart has to work harder to keep up
- Larger ranges of motion. By just lifting your arms overhead the heart has to work harder to fight gravity to pump blood all the way to the fingers.
- More load. By adding more load/resistance the body has to work harder.
- Faster Reps. The muscles have to work more to execute tasks at a faster rate.
These ideas will all be applied to my upcoming class series “Low Impact Cardio Pilates”. In this 6 week class series we will be working on finding ways to increase intensity while still keeping it low impact and gentle on joints!
Class begins December 7th and can be done live or on your own time!