Exercise Intensity – How hard should you exercise?
a) Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (BRPE)
This is a simple but effective tool to measure exercise intensity after a sustained period of exercise. For instance, after you have done a 20-minute walk on the treadmill, you can rate how you feel and use this as a feedback for future sessions. If the rating is ‘6’, you could consider walking at a faster pace in your next session.
b) Exercise & the Heart
Exercise generates physical exertion on your body, and causes the heart to beat faster. If the heart beat is in a healthy, safe and effective target heart rate zone, this means that you have achieved the right level of exertion. The most direct way to know this is by measuring your heart beat. But first, let’s take a look at a key term called Heart Rate Maximum, or HRmax in short.
E.g. If you are 60 years old, your HRmax would be 220 – 60 = 160 beats per minute.
c) The Self Talk Test
The talk test can be used to establish exercise intensity at a moderate level. If you are working at an intensity that increases breathing rate but still allows you to speak without gasping for breath between words, you are likely to be exercising at a moderate intensity. The goal would be to exercise to the point at which speech would start to become more difficult. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests that moderate-intensity activity allows you to talk but not to sing, whereas more vigorous activity results in an inability to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.