Measuring exercise and activity intensity

Most people measure intensity in terms of how they feel when exercising or doing an activity. Methods of monitoring intensity include:

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Borg scale 6 – 20
  • RPE: Rating of Perceived Exertion – Scale 1-10
  • Talk tests

Depending on the individual’s fitness levels, something a very “fit” person would consider a low-intensity exercise/activity may be perceived as moderate or high intensity by someone with a lower level of fitness.

Below is an example of how the “talk test” can be used to understand the level of intensity you or somebody else is working at;

Low Intensity
If you can talk and sing while exercising without running out of breath, you are exercising at a low intensity.

Moderate Intensity
If you can comfortably chat, but you cannot sing any more than a few words without running out of breath, you are exercising at a moderate intensity.

High Intensity
If you cannot say any more than a few words without having to pause to breathe, you are exercising at a high intensity.

Some examples of low, medium and high-intensity exercises/activities are outlined in the table below.

Low, medium and High-intensity exercises/activities

Table 15 Low, medium and high-intensity exercises/activities

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