Measuring Physical Activity Intensity
A way to understand and measure the intensity of aerobic activity is by understanding intensity and how physical activity affects heart rate and breathing.
The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity, you can talk but not sing during the activity.
- Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
- Water aerobics
- Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour on primarily flat or level terrain without hills
- Tennis (doubles)
- Ballroom dancing
- General gardening
In general, if you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
- Race walking, jogging, or running
- Swimming laps
- Tennis (singles)
- Aerobic dancing
- Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster that may include hills
- Jumping rope
- Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
Other Methods of Measuring Intensity
- Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- Perceived Exertion (Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale)
See the amount of calories used in common physical activities.