Heart rate is typically used as a measure of activity intensity; it is categorized into three different intensity levels. These levels include low, moderate and vigorous. 

The examples given below are provided as a guide only and can vary between individuals

Low – requires a low amount of effort and does not increase the heart rate. 

Activities/exercises include:

  • Walking (level ground, slow pace, strolling)

Low intensity feels easy. Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a light level:

  • You have no noticeable changes in your breathing
  • You don't break a sweat (unless it's very hot or humid)
  • You can easily carry on a full conversation or even sing

Moderate – requires a moderate amount of effort and noticeably accelerates the heart rate.  Activities/exercises include:

  • Brisk walking, hiking or pushing a baby pushchair
  • Cycling or swimming for leisure or pleasure
  • Dancing
  • Golf (with walking and carrying clubs)
  • Gardening or outside work
  • Housework and domestic chores (washing car, washing windows or floor, dusting)
  • Active involvement in games/sport with children
  • General building tasks (roofing, painting)
  • Carrying/moving medium objects

Moderate intensity feels somewhat hard. Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a moderate level:

  • Your breathing quickens, but you're not out of breath
  • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity
  • You can carry on a conversation, but you can't sing

Vigorous – requires a large amount of effort and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. 

Activities/exercises include:

  • Running
  • Walking/climbing briskly up a hill
  • Fast cycling or swimming
  • Aerobics (classes, gym workout)
  • Competitive games/sports
  • Heavy outside work (shovelling, digging or chopping wood)
  • Carrying/moving large objects

Vigorous activity feels challenging. Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a vigorous level:

  • Your breathing is deep and quick
  • You develop a sweat after a few minutes of activity
  • You can't say more than a few words without pausing for breath
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