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What is Vigorous Intensity Exercise?


Updated August 26, 2012

Wendy Bumgardner ©
Health guidelines prescribe the amount of exercise needed to maintain health and reduce health risk. Vigorous intensity exercise is recommended for 20 minutes a day, three days a week or a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. Vigorous intensity exercise can be alternated with moderate intensity exercise. What is vigorous intensity exercise?
  • How Long: At least 10 minutes at a time
  • What Does Vigorous Aerobic Exercise Feel Like? You are breathing rapidly and only able to speak in short phrases. Your heart rate is substantially increased and you are likely to be sweating.
  • Measuring Vigorous Intensity: The CDC defines this as 70% to 80% of maximum heart rate. This varies by age and fitness level and can be found by using our Heart Rate Zone Calculator
  • Kinds of Vigorous Aerobic Exercise:

  • How Often: Different guidelines give different levels. The American Heart Association Guidelines 2007 recommends 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes per week.

More Is Better

These guidelines are the minimum for maintaining good health. If you workout for longer, or more often, you further improve your fitness and reduce your risk of chronic disease and weight gain.

Sources: Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A. "Physical Activity and Public Health. Updated Recommendation for Adults From the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association." Circulation. 2007 Aug 1. [Epub ahead of print]

"Be Active Your Way: A Fact Sheet for Adults" U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 10/12/2008.

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