Moderate versus Vigorous Activity, part 2

How do I know if I’m exercising moderately or vigorously?

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is where you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat. You’re working at a moderate intensity if you’re able to talk but unable to sing the words to a song.

Vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is where you’re breathing hard and fast and your heart rate has increased significantly. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

We’ve talked about using the RPE scale to gauge difficulty, you can also use the Metabolic Equivalents Task scale (METS)

One metabolic equivalent (MET) is defined as the amount of oxygen consumed while sitting at rest.  Also known as your “Resting Metabolic Rate” (which is different from you Basal Metabolic Rate.).  We can use the 1 MET to express the relative energy cost of physical activities as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate.



Using the METs scale, moderate activity is defined as 3.5 – >6 METs; vigorous activity is <6 METs

Here are some other common activities from the Harvard School of Public Health:

Light <3.0 METs*
Moderate 3.0–6.0 METs*  Vigorous >6.0 METs*
Walking—slowly = 2.0 Walking—very brisk (4mph) = 5.0; Walking/Hiking (4.5mph)= 7.0

Jogging at 6 mph = 10.0

Sitting—using computer = 1.5 Cleaning—heavy  = 3.0–3.5

(washing windows, vacuuming, mopping)

Shoveling = 7.0–8.5
Standing—light work = 2.0-2.5

(cooking, washing dishes)

Mowing lawn = 5.5

(walk power mower)

Carrying heavy loads = 7.5
Fishing—sitting = 2.0

Playing most instruments = 2.0–2.5

Bicycling—light effort (10–12 mph) = 6.0

Badminton—recreational = 4.5

Tennis—doubles = 5.0

Bicycling fast (14–16 mph) = 10.0

Basketball game = 8.0

Soccer casual = 7.0

Tennis—singles = 8.0


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