Reap the Rewards of Exercise Intensity

Want the most from your workouts? Determine your exercise intensity for your health and fitness goals. You can add elements of fun and challenge to your workouts by simply using the exercise intensity. Did you know that the intensity is driven by the goals of the training? There are several different ways to monitor your intensity:

Determine Your Exercise Intensity.


  1. Perceived exertion (easy vs uncomfortable),
  2. Breathing (deep breathing vs. breathless),
  3. Talking (speak complete sentences vs. a few words)
  4. Heart rate monitoring. Use these techniques during the workout to observe intensity levels.

Understanding Perceived Exertion

First, think about perceived exertion as if you are participating in an aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling, running or rowing. The exercise intensity correlates with how hard the activity feels to you. It is your own perception of how hard or intense the physical activity feels to you. Ask yourself, how fatigued are the muscles feeling right now? It is a subjective measure and may be different from someone else’s perception due to their fitness level. An Olympic runner will perceive a one mile run as a warm up. Someone new to running views the one mile as a workout.

Breath and Heart Rate

Two other ways the exercise intensity manifests is in your breathing and heart rate. Simply, can you speak comfortably or are you grasping for air? If you can’t talk, slow it down. The beauty of your heart rate is that it offers a more objective look at the exercise intensity. In general, the higher your heart rate during a physical activity, the higher the exercise intensity. There are situations where a prescriptive drug may supresses one’s heart rate from rising past a certain point. We will save that for another blog article.

Sweat it Out

Another option to determine the intensity is if you are sweating or not. “Sweating is a necessary process that cools down the body,” explains David M. Pariser, M.D.The average person sweats between 27 ounces to 47 ounces during one hour of exercise. What does your sweat level reveal?

Most of all, if you’re not feeling any exertion or your heart rate is too low, pick up the pace. If you are concerned that you’re pushing yourself way too hard or your heart rate is up too high, back off a bit. New to exercising and sweating excessively, cool it down. If you are an exercise guru and sweating little, hydrate.