(CARLSBAD, CA) – “Intensity” is one of the hottest buzzwords in the fitness industry today. Dozens of health and wellness professionals suggest that you challenge your body by exercising at a higher level of intensity. But, what does this feel like? And how do you determine if your efforts are meeting the mark?
Perhaps you fixate your eyes upon the monitors of your treadmill or elliptical machine. Maybe you gauge your exercise intensity by the amount of sweat hitting the floor. No matter what means you choose to measure your workout success, the experts are right about one thing. The bottom line of an effective exercise regimen comes down to one word: intensity.
Intensity is simply a measure of how hard you are working. The American Council on Exercise recommends that fitness participants keep watch on intensity levels for two reasons. First, if you waltz leisurely through your workout program at a low intensity level, then you will inevitably become frustrated from a lack of results. Secondly, if you overtrain at an extremely high intensity level, you put yourself at risk for injury or burnout.
There are three popular ways to measure exercise intensity: the talk test, target heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion.
Talk Test. The talk test is an easy means for novice exercisers to judge intensity level. In this measurement, you simply gauge your intensity level based upon your ability to speak. If you have difficultly carrying on a simple conversation, then you are working at too high of an intensity level. On the flip side, if you find that you can easily belt out every note to the tunes scrolling through your iPod, then your intensity is too low.
Target Heart Rate. The formula for determining your target heart rate zone is quite simple. Subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate. For example, if you are 35, then your maximum heart rate is 185. Multiply that number by 50% and 80% to find your optimal target heart rate range. That range is your goal for heartbeats per minute during your exercise routine. New exercisers are wise to start on the lower end, while longtime fitness buffs may challenge their bodies towards the upper end. Never exceed 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Rate of Perceived Exertion. RPE is based upon a scale that runs from zero to 10. When you are lying in bed, your exertion level is zero. When you are running in a full sprint down the airport terminal to catch your flight, your exertion level ranks as 10. With those guidelines in place, then you can determine what it “feels like” to work at each level from zero to 10. The American Council on Exercise recommends that most people work between a three and a five on the RPE scale.
Monitor your intensity level frequently during exercise. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett suggests that new exercisers check for intensity level at least every ten minutes. As you monitor your intensity level on a regular basis, you will become more familiar with your body’s response to exercise. Then, you can safely measure how to challenge your body in workouts that are both effective and safe.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.