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Why Intensity is the Litmus Test for Exercise Success

When it comes to exercise, we are what we sweat. That glow is our body's attempt to cool itself and can give us a read on how hard we're exerting ourselves. When we aren't working hard enough, we're essentially spinning our fitness wheels. But on the other hand, overtraining can lead to injuries and other health issues.

To really know if we're pushing our bodies hard enough, or too hard, during a workout, there are a couple of tools we can use to get a gut check on our intensity. The experts at Life Fitness recommend employing one or all of the following:

  • Talk Test: This is a helpful lie detector to gauge the intensity of a workout. Feel able to have a full, comfortable conversation during exercise? It means that the body isn't being asked to work hard enough. Once we're too winded to talk and gasping for air, we're asking too much of ourselves. Being limited to broken sentences is just about right.
  • Perceived Rate of Exertion: This measures how hard we think we're working. The American Council on Exercise equates this rate of exertion on a scale of zero to 10 with three to five being the ideal workout zone. Put into perspective, lying on the couch is a zero while sprinting after that runaway dog (again) will drive it up to a 10.
  • Target Heart Rate: With the help of a heart rate monitor, this can be the easiest way to gauge intensity. Life Fitness recommends maintaining 50 to 80 percent of your max heart rate (220 - age = theoretical max heart rate) during exercise. Exercising at lower heart rates (theoretical max heart rate x .50 = target heart rate) for extended periods of time are ideal for increasing health benefits, while higher heart rates (theoretical max heart rate x .80 = target heart rate) are harder to maintain over time but best for training.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on FitTips and other fitness advice and expertise visit or follow us on Twitter at

Article Reviewed: January 19, 2016
Copyright © 2015 Healthy Magazine

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