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Light, Moderate & Vigorous Intensities

You have probably heard about different intensities of physical activity. In general the three different levels are Light intensity, Moderate intensity and Vigorous intensity. What does this mean? How can you tell what intensity you are working at? Here are some guidelines that might help you to figure this out!

The simplest way is to use the TALK TEST.

You simply ask yourself “Can I talk or Can I Sing while doing the activity?”

  • I can sing! – Light Intensity
  • I can talk but I can’t sing – Moderate Intensity
  • I can’t carry on a conversation – Vigorous Intensity

Another way of measuring intensity that is a little more difficult to do is using your heart rate.

Heart Rate Method

Find your heart rate. You can find your heart rate between your windpipe and the muscle of the neck OR on your wrist, on the thumb side below the palm between the tendons. Use the palm side of your fingers and calculate beats per minute by counting the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4.

Calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) by following this formula 220 – (your age).

Take your Maximum Heart Rate and multiply the % of intensity you would like to find out.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Vigorous Intensity is 75–90% of your Maximum Heart Rate
  • Moderate Intensity is 65–74% of your Maximum Heart Rate
  • Light Intensity is 55–64% of your Maximum Heart Rate

Here is an example;

For a person who is 30 years old – 220-30 = 190, therefore their maximum heart rate is 190.

  • 190 x 75% up to 190 x 90% = 142–171 vigorous intensity
  • 190 x 65% up to 190 x 74% = 123–141 moderate intensity
  • 190 x 55% up to 190 x 64 % = 105–122 light intensity

This gives you the range your heart rate should be at for the different levels of intensity. Keep in mind that if you have a heart condition you should consult your doctor before following this guideline. Some medications may alter your heart rate and make this guideline inaccurate. This is only a guideline and can vary somewhat from person to person.