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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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    I learn, then find out I need to learn more.
  • Be active any way you can, every day that you can.
  • I too was told by the doctor that because I had always been an active obese person, my heart had adapted to my body so I would have trouble reaching the calculated heart rate. She told me instead to make sure I broke a sweat and that the exercise was maintained for at least 10 minutes and to use the talking test. Seems to be working for me.
  • Also want to add, when I started exercising by doing workouts regularly when I was about 45 (after spending years just taking care of my family and not thinking about myself), I took a class at the gym and pushed hard, as I was used to as a teen and 20-something athlete, and I got light-headed and had to sit down. I was determined to keep pushing that hard and that was what I needed to do to get back into shape. The wise instructor advised me to get a heart rate monitor and told me about HR targets for working out. Just like this article. And it has been very helpful to me and I have kept an eye on my heart rate while working out ever since.
  • I didn't read through all the comments because there are a lot - but the ones I read mentioned the target rate being too high. For me it is too low. I am 58 and a runner. My age puts me into a lower HR by the calculations - I have a resting HR of 63 and I am 58. 85 % is 147 and I can hit that pretty early into a regular workout. 100% would be 160 and I easily hit the 160s in long slow runs. I took my high end target from what my heart rate is at the end of a 5k race when I go all out for the last 500 meters and it is 210, so I consider that my 100% HR. In my workouts, I like to maintain in the 180s for at least 30 minutes
  • Thanks. Thsi article reminds me of how to calculate heart rate at various stages. Also motivates me - another piece of data - and will help me to get the most out of my walking.
  • 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.
  • Very helpful and easy to understand article. Thanks for posting it.
  • Extremely help , simple guide to make sure you are getting the most out of exercise
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • SHAHAI16
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!!

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