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Health Tips

Healthy Tip #3 - What's Your Intensity Level?

It is true that higher intensity exercise burns a lower relative percentage of fat than lower intensity exercise. However, the factor that mostly determines weight loss is not the relative percentage of fat being burned, but the total calories burned. Of course, very high intensity exercise is difficult to sustain for the necessary 30-60 minutes, especially if you are just starting an exercise program, so it is best to begin at low intensity and work your way up to something more moderate.

How exactly does one determine the intensity of an exercise? Here is a practical way to determine whether an exercise is low, moderate or high intensity. This method is called the "ratings of perceived exertion" or RPE. You rate the intensity of the exercise according to how it feels or how you perceive it to be.

Low intensity exercise feels very comfortable. You are breathing easily, you can carry on a conversation, and you feel like you could go on for hours. Walking at a leisurely pace would be a good example.

Moderate intensity would feel like you are breathing a little faster, you can still carry on a conversation but you are huffing and puffing a bit. An example would be brisk walking.

During high intensity exercise, you can feel your heart thumping, you are breathing hard and you can talk but only in very short sentences. Running, an advanced aerobics class, or a singles tennis match would be a good example.

Super-high intensity would be hardly being able to talk and gasping for air. The 100-meter dash would be an example. At this level, the body is burning almost all its calories from carbohydrates.