Fitness: How tough was your last workout?

How long does pre-workout last? Gym bunnies feeling a little low on energy before exercising sometimes look for a boost before training. Newsweek explores the different types and how they work.

Would you describe your last workout as light, moderate or vigorous? Not sure which one fits? You’re not alone. It’s not easy figuring out exactly how hard you’re exercising. And since more and more fitness professionals are emphasizing intensity over time, it’s worth reviewing whether your workout is vigorous enough to deliver the kind of results you want.

It’s common for certain activities to be grouped by intensity. Walking, hiking, doubles tennis and golf fall into the moderate category, while singles tennis and hockey are examples of vigorous exercise. Then there are activities like running, swimming, brisk walking and cycling that can be labelled moderate, vigorous or high intensity, based on the amount of energy the exerciser expends — hence some of the confusion about what constitutes a light, moderate, vigorous or high-intensity workout.

Exercise intensity is a reflection of effort, not activity, with several additional factors influencing the measurement, including fitness level, age, gender and genetics. An elite athlete will expend less energy running around a 400-metre track than a novice exerciser covering the same distance at the same speed. So while the elite athlete may describe the workout intensity as moderate, the novice will classify it as vigorous — something to keep in mind when you see activities like running, swimming and cycling labelled by intensity.

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