Are you getting the right kind of exercise?
When it comes to exercise, both quality and quantity matter. Reaching 10,000 steps might trigger fireworks or a confetti explosion on your step tracker and give you a sense of achievement. However, according to guidelines by the Health Promotion Board, walking at a normal pace simply isn’t intense enough to reap the benefits of regular exercise, including a healthy heart (hence a lower risk of diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke), mental well-being and weight control. What you can do, is increase your speed to a brisk walk to hit moderate-intensity.
For working adults aged 19 to 49 years old, your weekly goal ought to be clocking 150 minutes of physical activity, at the very least. To break that down, that means exercising at moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day for five days in a week. If that’s a stretch for your tight schedule, ramp up the intensity and aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises twice a week instead.
What counts as moderate-intensity exercise?
Brisk walking and leisure cycling along park connectors and after-work recreational badminton sessions are some examples of moderate-intensity exercises. Both your heart and breathing rate should increase and you may sweat, and while you may not have enough breath to sing the words of your favourite song, you should still be able to talk. The rule is to engage at least 10 minutes of continuous physical activity – a five-minute brisk walk to the bus stop every morning doesn’t count!
What counts as vigorous-intensity exercise?
When your heart rate and breathing rate increase significantly and you can’t hold a conversation without pausing for a breath, that’s when you’ve entered the vigorous-intensity exercise zone. Examples include aerobic dancing (like zumba), running and going hard and fast in spin class. If such activities seem too monotonous for you, go for high-intensity interval training classes instead. Such circuit-training style workouts involve completing a variety of exercises at a heart-pounding pace, which don’t just improve your cardiovascular fitness over time, but help you build strength too.
How can I measure the intensity of my exercise?
Rather than just taking note of how you feel, a more objective method to review the intensity of your workout is by measuring your heart rate using a fitness watch with heart-rate tracking capabilities. Need recommendations? These sleek wearables will keep tabs on your heart rate and chart it out for you later.
Exercises at a moderate intensity should cause your heart to pump at 50 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate, and 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate for vigorous-intensity exercises.
But before that, you’ll need to figure out your maximum heart rate, which can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. For a 30-year-old, the maximum times your heart should beat per minute while exercising should be 190.
Now that you’ve got these numbers locked down, it’s time to intentionally make exercise part of your lifestyle. Schedule workouts into your week and stick to them like an important office meeting. Swop out a brunch date with your girlfriends for a barre class that you can bond over instead. Stuck at home? Sweat through these guided home-workouts – no excuses!