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Reference Guide to Exercise Intensity

An In-Depth Look at Heart Rate, RPE and the Talk Test


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  • JMB369
    This was a really helpful article.mI have bradycardia, which is a slow heartbeat. My resting heart beat is about 48 bpm, so moderate intensity fir me is about 100-110! I like the idea of checking this against PRE and the talk test, as I walk with a friend 2-3 times a week. This week I am starting the 69-day walk program, so I'll be using these guidelines. - 10/10/2016 8:18:06 AM
  • Very helpful and easy to understand article. Thanks for posting it. - 8/3/2016 11:07:29 AM
  • Extremely help , simple guide to make sure you are getting the most out of exercise - 7/5/2016 11:05:48 PM
  • A very insightful article. I run and cycle and actually train in the 70-80% area. I have been doing this for a couple of years now and I find it works well for me. Thanks for the information. - 6/13/2016 1:16:33 PM
  • Thank you so much for this article! I have been wondering about it, but haven't had time to look it up. Whenever I start exercising again I can't use the recommended heart rates. But after I've been back exercising consistently for a month, then I can start using it. - 5/20/2016 9:08:46 AM
  • I usually do the talk test or PRE, heart rate calculations don't seem to work for me. If I used the guidelines for that I'd never get in a good workout. My resting pulse is normal-to-high (78 last I checked) but I periodically check on the monitors on the gym machines (which admittedly I know are inaccurate) and my heart rate gets really high, like around 180 if I'm pushing myself, 150-160 if just walking on the treadmill at an incline. I have no idea why my heart rate gets so high, when I was in the military my workouts would push it past my "max" heart rate. - 5/15/2016 11:26:33 PM
  • I do the exertion thing, I cannot hold a conversation though so I guess I am working too hard. I am out of breath most of the time while I am walking and especially when I get to go to the gym and use the elliptical or stair climber. I just know I have lost 21 pounds in about 4 months and still have close to 30 to go. - 4/19/2016 9:45:32 PM
  • I can't use the target heart rate method either. I doubt my heart would handle it very well. I run out of breath long before I get there. I will do what I can do, and hope it is enough. I need to lose the weight, but am not willing to die trying. - 4/3/2016 11:00:11 PM
  • Definitely cannot use the target heart rate method - my minimum would throw me into A-Fib if it got that high. I do use perceived rate of exertion and the talk test which both seem to work for me! Research all suggestions then listen to your body!! - 3/12/2016 8:58:28 AM
  • Does this work for people who have a pacemaker/defibrillator? I don 't believe my heart rate is allowed to go over 80. - 11/26/2015 11:10:43 PM
    The chart on page 4 has an error. The order should be---
    8. Very hard
    9. Extremely hard
    10. Maximum exertion
    cs/measuring/exertion.htm - 11/7/2015 10:18:34 AM
  • I know some people like the definite quantification of having heart rate numbers, but individuals vary in this as in all other bodily measures. A friend's husband was getting extremely frustrated that he was not getting his heart rate up in his "target zone". He finally brought it up with his doctor, who told him that a lifetime of athletic activity had adapted his heart to have a larger than average stroke volume, which meant that his heart was very strong and efficient, pumping more blood per beat, and didn't need to be in the "target zone" to support vigorous activity. Numbers can be a guideline, but they are not the end-all and be-all. - 9/29/2015 11:18:57 AM
  • The older you get, the more different the results of these two formulas are. Very confusing. - 9/29/2015 10:31:12 AM
  • Great info! Thank you for the updated info !!! I've been using the numbers from 20 years ago!!!! - 9/8/2015 12:21:24 PM
  • Good info! Thanks. - 9/5/2015 10:07:41 AM

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