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The Difference in Moderate Intensity & High Intensity Exercise

author image Jeremi Davidson
Jeremi Davidson began freelance writing in 2005. Davidson enjoys writing about sports and personal fitness, contributing to a number of different health and lifestyle websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Thompson Rivers University.
The Difference in Moderate Intensity & High Intensity Exercise
Exercises of all intensity levels can help get you in shape.

Staying in shape is a sore spot for many people, who believe that it takes hours out of every day to accomplish. In reality, you can exercise for as little as 15 minutes per day, depending on whether you participate in moderate- or vigorous-intensity exercises. Once you find the level of intensity that works best for you, staying in shape becomes much easier.

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Moderate-intensity Exercises

Tennis Photo Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Moderate-intensity exercise includes anything that increases your heart rate and allows you to break a sweat, but doesn't meet the criteria for vigorous-intensity exercise. Walking, playing doubles tennis, doing yard work and participating in water aerobics all count as moderate-intensity exercises. If you feel as though your heart rate has increased significantly during the exercise, it likely means that your last activity counts as a moderate-intensity exercise.

Moderate-intensity Exercise Requirements

Walk exercise
Walk exercise Photo Credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Most individuals need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. You can break this activity down into increments as little as 10 minutes in length throughout the day and still lose weight, as long as you get to 150 minutes by the end of the week. Many people take a 10-minute walk before work, on their lunch hour and after work, which goes a long way in getting to these goals each week.

High-intensity Exercises

Swim laps
Swim laps Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

High-intensity exercise gets your heart beating very quickly. Once you get to this level, you cannot say more than a few words at a time without stopping and taking a breath. These exercises include running, swimming laps at a pool, riding your bike quickly or uphill, playing a singles tennis match, joining a game of basketball or interval training. If you choose to partake in vigorous exercises, work your way up to them slowly; you should always start with moderate exercises.

High-intensity Exercise Requirements

Jogger Photo Credit: ahturner/iStock/Getty Images

Your high-intensity exercise program should include 75 minutes of exercise per week. Generally, you only need one minute of vigorous exercise for every two minutes of moderate exercise. People who participate in vigorous exercise often do so because they receive the same health benefits, but can do it in half of the time.

Measuring Heart Rate

Heart rate monitor
Heart rate monitor Photo Credit: Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

To determine the intensity of your workout, you must measure your heart rate during the activity. Keep in mind that if your exercise does not increase your heart rate to a desired level or keep it at that level for at least 20 minutes, it does not do much good for your cardiovascular fitness. To find your ideal heart rate, subtract your current age from 220 and then multiply that number by 70 percent. This gives you a number based on your age that you should attempt to reach during moderate- and high-intensity workouts.

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