What does it mean to train? Everyone has their own definitions and ideas about working out, but usually when you say “working out” our brains immediately turn to hard workers, thick sweaters, and the kind of exercises that make us wonder why we even entered the gymnasium in first place. Although some workouts look like this, most people don’t want to feel like this when working out. Unfortunately, society has put these standards in our brains that working out should always “feel like” working out. Unfortunately, this idea turns many people away from exercise. The good thing is that it’s not the only way to exercise. Low-intensity exercise is an often overlooked and great option for people who want to be active and fit, but don’t feel like they’ve given it their all when working out.
This may be the first time you have considered that there are different types of intensities one can train at. When I look at exercise, I usually separate them into three distinct intensities: low, medium, and high. Although we have three distinct categories listed, there are likely crossovers between exercise intensities, with some being low to moderate intensity and some being moderate to high intensity. Either way, these categories are a good starting point. When it comes to low intensity exercise, we can imagine someone participating in light walking. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hardest exercise ever), we would be working at a level around 3-5. A different way to look at exercise intensity is also to talk. For low intensity exercises, you should be able to hold a steady conversation, with little or no deviation due to labored breathing. Next we have moderate intensity exercises. Moving up the scale, moderate-intensity exercise would typically be measured at around 6-8 on our 1-10 scale. Using our conversation test, a moderate-intensity exercise would typically allow the participant to hold a conversation, with a few short pauses between sentences to allow for breathing. High-intensity exercise puts us at the very top of our 1-10 scale, reaching a level of 9+. During high intensity exercise, you will not be able to hold a conversation and will have very labored breathing. As we describe high intensity exercise, it may seem like this would be the best option. After all, working harder is always better, right? While I would never stop anyone from doing high intensity training if they are conditioned, I would also never advise doing only high intensity training. Ideally, you would have a mix of low and high intensity exercises in your routine. Since life is full of high-intensity events (moving down a busy street, picking up a heavy object in the house, etc.), it’s good to work on this level once in a while. While high-intensity exercise has its place, low-intensity exercise also offers great physical and mental benefits.
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Low to medium intensity exercise is ideal for a variety of reasons. These types of exercises are generally easier to perform and therefore enjoyed and enjoyed by most people. This is huge when it comes to being consistent with physical activity because the benefits we get come from long-term exercise. On top of that, since the intensity is low, the chances of you getting sore post-workout are slim. This leaves you recovered, motivated, and ready to engage in more physical activity the next day, or even later in the day. Low-intensity exercise is all about finding a way to move that feels good to you. We don’t focus on “feeling like you’re working out”, but rather on a physical activity that you enjoy and can stick to. If you haven’t incorporated low-intensity exercise into your life yet, it’s time to start today!
Logan Anderson, BA, CPT, CIFT, is the owner of All Strong Fitness LLC.
“I want to help people not just survive, but thrive.”