Most of us know that moderate -intensity exercise is good for us. However, research shows that most of us do not know what moderate exercise means. A new study found that many of us underestimate how hard we should exercise to achieve maximum health benefits, and overestimate how vigorously we are actually working out.
It is recommended that adults complete 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Does the average person really know what the recommended intensities feel like in action? A new study published in PLOS One set out to see what people knew about exercising for health.
During moderate exercise the guidelines state that your pulse should rise to about 64 percent to 76 percent of your maximum heart rate for moderate exercise; your pulse should be between about 77 percent and 90 percent of your maximum during vigorous exercise. During moderate exercise, you should be able to talk, but not sing, while during vigorous activity, you will be able to speak a few words before having to pause for a breath.
The participants were, as it turned out, quite inept at judging intensity. Few maintained a heart rate above 65 percent of their maximum when they were supposedly exercising moderately; even fewer reached a heart rate above 75 percent of maximum during their version of vigorous exercise.
The most telling, the majority of participants walked at a decidedly languorous pace when asked to estimate the lowest-intensity exercise that would qualify as moderate and provide robust health benefits. Only about 25 percent reached a pace that raised their heart rate into the moderate range. The rest gently strolled.
In general, during each of the tests, the participants overestimated how hard they were exercising. If you are unsure how to gauge intensity, use a heart rate monitor to keep you working out at the appropriate intensity for you to gain the most health benefits.