When you're trying to determine exactly how much exercise you should get every week for optimal health, you'll likely come across the terms "moderate" and "vigorous" in relation to the intensity at which you work out. If your workout time is at a premium, using vigorous-intensity exercises can help you get results quickly. Before you can start to break a sweat, however, it's important to familiarize yourself with what constitutes a vigorous exercise.
Talking Indicates Your Rate
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vigorous-paced exercise is one that burns more than 7 calories per minute. Moderate-paced exercises, meanwhile, burn only 3.5 to 7 calories per minute. Both forms of exercise can be useful as you attempt to improve your health. If you're unsure of the level at which you're exercising, try to talk. If you can't say more than a small group of words without pausing to breathe, you're exercising vigorously.
Out and About
Many people use jogging as a way to keep fit or shed some weight. The CDC reports that jogging -- or speed walking -- at a pace of at least 5 mph is defined as a vigorous exercise. Backpacking and walking up a hill at a brisk pace also fit the definition of vigorous exercise. Other vigorous-paced outdoor exercises include biking at a speed of at least 10 mph, inline skating briskly, swimming laps and whitewater kayaking.
At Home and in the Gym
Calisthenics and other exercises that you perform at home or at the gym can meet the definition of vigorous exercise, provided you take the correct approach. For calisthenics, perform such activities as pushups, crunches and pullups at a rapid pace. Jumping rope also provides a vigorous workout. At the gym, quickly alternate weight training with calisthenics or cardio exercises to create a vigorous circuit-training routine. Exercise machines, including the rowing machine and stair climber, can provide a vigorous workout if you maintain a fast pace.
Focus on Sports
A wide range of team and individual competitive sports meet the description of vigorous exercise. The CDC reports that such team sports as football, basketball, soccer, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and water polo provide a vigorous workout. A number of individual sports, including squash, tennis, ice skating, cross-country skiing, wrestling and boxing are vigorous in nature. Downhill skiing can also be vigorous, provided you do so at a rapid tempo.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
- NHS Choices: What is Moderate and Vigorous Exercise?
- WomensHealth.gov: Types of Physical Activity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Measuring Physical Activity Intensity