Fitness Articles

How to Measure for Exercise Intensity without a Heart Rate Monitor

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The Talk Test has been a generally accepted method of measuring (aerobic) exercise intensity for a long time now, although fitness experts have questioned whether or not the test is accurate across populations and different types of exercise. The test is self-administered to help exercisers determine whether or not they are exercising at the appropriate intensity level (think target heart rate) or when they need to take it down a notch.

Basically, if you can carry on a light conversation while exercising, then you are in a good intensity range. Once your speech starts to break, slow, or cause discomfort, you’re working too hard.

Researchers at the American College of Sports Medicine found that people who can talk comfortably during exercise are likely to be working at the appropriate intensity, and that this test is a good way to predict intensity levels, even corresponding to exercise prescriptions (like the target heart rate) from doctors or trainers.

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Not everyone completely understands the target heart rate method. Not to mention, not all machines (or people!) have heart rate monitors, and sometimes you just don't want to stop, count, and time a heart rate check during exercise. The Talk Test has been confirmed as a simple and accurate method of gauging intensity that doesn’t require any equipment or learning. Try your own Talk Test during your next workout (and compare it to your normal heart rate count if you’re skeptical). You may be able to replace your heart rate monitoring with this simple test during all of your workouts, or at least when counting your pulse is inconvenient.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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