Moderate Intensity Level Exercises

Brisk Walking
Brisk Walking.

Health guidelines give a prescription for the kind and amount of exercise needed for the best health benefits. Moderate intensity exercise is recommended for either 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week or a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes per week. What is moderate intensity exercise?

What Does Moderate Intensity Feel Like When You Exercise?

A moderate level of activity noticeably increases your heart rate and breathing rate.

You may sweat, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. You can talk, but you can't sing. You know you are exercising compared with doing a daily activity such as walking at an easy pace. But you are not huffing and puffing.

Measuring Moderate Intensity - Heart Rate

The CDC defines this as 50% to 70% of maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate varies by age and can be found by using the Heart Rate Zone Calculator.  To measure your heart rate, you can take your exercise pulse or use a heart rate monitor, heart rate app, or some fitness bands and smartwatches.

How Long Should You Exercise at Moderate Intensity?

At least 10 minutes of continuous physical activity is needed for it to be considered a session of exercise. While 30 minutes per day are recommended, you can break that up into two to three shorter sessions, each at least 10 minutes long.

Kinds of Moderate Intensity Exercise:

Moderate Intensity Exercise for the Mobility Challenged

If you are not able to use your legs, you can achieve moderately-intense exercise by using a manual wheelchair or a hand cycle (ergometer).

What Doesn't Count for Moderate Intensity Exercise?

An easy walk of under 10 minutes doesn't count as moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You may achieve over 10,000 steps per day on your pedometer, but unless you do some sessions of 10 minutes or more at a brisk pace, you haven't achieved it. Just adding steps on your pedometer at an easy pace or through shorter bursts of movement doesn't count.

Many activity monitors, pedometers, and smartwatches track continuous movement at a pace they consider to be right for achieving moderate-intensity exercise to vigorous-intensity exercise. They report this as exercise minutes and exercise calories burned. It is a good way to check and be sure you are getting enough exercise of the right kind.

How to Get Started with Moderate Intensity Exercise

You can build moderate activity into your lifestyle by walking briskly for at least 10 minutes to the bus, etc.


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 2/29/2016.

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