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What Is Moderate Intensity Exercise?


By Mary_RD on Jul 09, 2009 12:00 PM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman

You’ve read the recommendations:

Engage in moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise for at least 30-minutes on most days or 150-minutes a week

But what exactly is moderate intensity exercise?

That question was recently answered by researchers at San Diego State University. In looking ways to make the pedometer useful for assessing exercise intensity, they found that walking at least 100 steps per minute meets the criteria for moderate intensity exercise. That translates into 3,000 steps in 30 minutes on a flat surface.

The Magic Number

Exercise scientists typically measure oxygen intake per minute in people working out. Oxygen uptake increases when the metabolic cost of an exercise is high.  (It's a fancy way to say the work is harder.) This process is expressed as a MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task), which is a comparison of the metabolic cost of an activity to the metabolic cost of rest. For instance, the Basal Metabolic Rate, the calories burned to keep you alive - not calling for much oxygen, comes in at MET 1, whereas running madly at 10 mph has a MET rate of 18. The San Diego State scientists figured that a MET rate of 3 accounted for the oxygen uptake needed for ‘moderate’ activity. MET 3 is like walking 3 miles per hour.

Back to the Pedometer

Many people wear pedometers when they walk to count steps and measure distance. Pedometers are popular and easy to use but they do not address exercise intensity. Furthermore, for a pedometer to be accurate it must be worn vertically hooked to the waistband directly above the hip, and for distance accuracy, the stride length must be set. The best way to measure stride is to step into a puddle, walk and leave footprints, and then measure the distance from the heel of one foot to the heel of the other.

Not So Fast

Do not confuse time-limited exercise at a moderate intensity level with having an overall Moderate Level of Activity. When 3,000 steps in 30 minutes is coupled with a desk job, the overall activity level is Light at best. Calculate your Daily Calorie Expenditure at Calorie Count.

And finally, many people are quite out-of-shape. They are easily winded and reach maximum exertion with much less than 100 steps per minute.  If that is you, downgrade your speed and train to go into training.  It is always safe to get medical clearance before you start to exercise.


Journal reference: 

Simon J. Marshall et al. Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal: 3000 Steps in 30 Minutes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 36, Issue 5 (May 2009)


Your thoughts....

Do you walk 100 steps per minute?



Comments


I do 10800 steps in 84 mins. And this is doing hills half the time. 



My Omron pedometer counts "aerobic steps" which are steps taken as part of continuous exercise of at least 10 minutes at 60 steps/minute. Given this article, I'm guessing that 60 steps/minute for 30 minutes is "light" rather than moderate exercise.



The problem with the 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days is that this level of activity will only help you maintain...not lose weight.  If your goals it to maintain, then I guess the 30 minutes most days is sufficient. 

If you are trying to lose weight, the World Health Organizations recommendation of 60 minutes of exercise most days is where you should set your activity/exercise goal.  And there is such a thing as "overtraining" or exercising too much which can have a negative effect on your weight loss.  The aim should really be for 60 - 120 minutes of moderate to intense exercise most days if you are trying to lose weight.  I am maintaining and my goal is to exercise 5 days a week. 



I think I do this much on my walk to work, but then I sit at the desk all day...boooo.....



I have not found an answer to my question, so maybe here. I walk a gravel road every day, with a couple of fairly steep hills and inclines along the route. It is one mile long and I walk from 2-4 miles nearly every day.  I have figured by time, I am walking approx. 3-1/2 mph, but all the charts show level, hard surface walking. I have upped the calorie burn to 4 mph. Would this be an accurate measurement?  I have been consistently losing since I started in January and I still push to the point of breathing heavily, but able to talk. 



I have a very basic pedometer (I got it from my company's StayWell program).  I've worn it many times to work to see how many steps a day I do.  I have a desk job and at the end of the day I barely get 5000 steps in a day.  I had my husband wear it just to see the difference (he is a maintenance worker) and he easily reached over 11000 steps.  Definately shows I need to get up around the office more.  I've incorporated two 15 minutes walks a day while at work, but it sounds like I could still step up the pace.



Kudos to everyone out there who has been walking keep up the great work! Walk before work, during lunch or even after work it all makes a difference!! 

I've tried a pedometer several times and they never seem to be accurate. My husband and I are training for a 60 mile breast cancer walk and truly the walking is the easy part...what to eat and how much is a challenge not to mention the fundraising in this economy!



This is in response to the posting by wyoung98. Assuming that your numbers are correct 10800/84 would be 128.5 steps per minute. That is more than 2 steps per second and That would not be a normal stride cycle. Would you please elaborate on how you are walking at such a fast rate?



Is setting the treadmill to 4.0 mph with a 2% grade doing the job?  Or can I go to 3.8 mph at a 2% grade?

Thanks



If you have e-music, many of the ISweat Fitness compliations at the end of the albums give you the beats per minute -- a great way to track your pace. 



IMO the only accurate way to find out what moderate intensity is for YOU is to go by your heart rate.  I think moderate intensity exercise should keep your heart rate between 65 and 70 percent of your max.  For me, that is between 117 and 126.  As my fitness level has increased, it takes more to get my heart rate to this level.  Initially, just walking at 3.9 or 4.0 mph on flat ground would do it.  But then I had to start adding incline to the treadmill.  Right now I have to walk at 3.8 or 3.9 at an incline of 5.5 or 6 to get my heart into the target zone. 

 



So what is everyone's thoughts on walking 30 minutes each day vs 65 minutes for 2 days vs 150 minutes all in one day???  Is it more beneficial to do it every day or spread it out?



If you are trying to lose weight, 30 minutes a day of moderate walking is not enough.  Do as much as you can!!  If you are only trying to maintain, I would say 30 mintes every day is the best, because your body needs exercise every day for health.



I agree that one hour of exercise per day is a good way to lose weight. I run 3 times a week, ride my bike twice a week for one hour and swim twice a week for about 30 minutes each time. I'm training for triathlons and just completed one, shaving 4 minutes off my previous time which motivated me to keep at the training.

I walk after lunch to make sure I have enough exercise. With all this and a good diet, I've lost 2 pounds in 3 weeks. And I didn't starve during July 4th.



Original Post by: dgoar

This is in response to the posting by wyoung98. Assuming that your numbers are correct 10800/84 would be 128.5 steps per minute. That is more than 2 steps per second and That would not be a normal stride cycle. Would you please elaborate on how you are walking at such a fast rate?


I'm using a Sportline Walking Advantage pedometer. The route I take is somewhere between 5 and 6 miles. I power walk it most every day and have cut 2 minutes off my 84 today. I felt really good today.



I walk about 4 miles/ hour (and I walk 6 miles in 90 minutes twice a week) so I think I get my exercise in but I do have a wide stride. 

I guess I"m confused about my activity level.

At work, I walk around a lot (I'm a teacher) but at home, I'm sit and read or play on the computer.  However, I also exercise 5-6 days a week. If I'm not walking, then I go on 1.5 hour bike rides (15-20 miles) 2-3 times a week.  

So am I a light activity person or a moderate activity person?  I seem to fall in between those two categories.  It would be so cool if CC had a little quiz instead of rigid descriptors.  



I use a GoWearFit and walking 4.5 mph it shows my MET level anywhere between 5 and 7.  I generally walk for an hour every morning and my 4.5 mile route is mostly flat.  It also tells me I'm burning about 400 calories.  I have a basic pedometer, that I can't set a stride on, and it counted about 8500 steps on my route.



I walk an alternative flat route that is listed as 3/4 mile in length. It is a board walk at the local beach. I walk it 8 times for my 6 miles. Normally the only people that pass me are the runners. I think I'm walking more than moderate intensity. I've lost 41 pounds since January and have increased the distance whenever I hit a plateau with my weight loss. These guide lines they come up with aren't one size fits all.



Original Post by: wyoung98

I walk an alternative flat route that is listed as 3/4 mile in length. It is a board walk at the local beach. I walk it 8 times for my 6 miles. Normally the only people that pass me are the runners. I think I'm walking more than moderate intensity. I've lost 41 pounds since January and have increased the distance whenever I hit a plateau with my weight loss. These guide lines they come up with aren't one size fits all.


41 pounds?  That is awesome!  Good for you! 



I use a tread mill on rainy days and for 3 miles it says I'm burning 460 calories at 3.5 mph. So for 6 miles am I burning 920?  The pedometer says a lot less. I see these e-mails that say if you eat a piece of cake you have to walk for x amount of time. They never say what speed or intensity to walk at so I feel you can't really believe the numbers they come up with. What do you think?



Original Post by: wyoung98

I use a tread mill on rainy days and for 3 miles it says I'm burning 460 calories at 3.5 mph. So for 6 miles am I burning 920?  The pedometer says a lot less. I see these e-mails that say if you eat a piece of cake you have to walk for x amount of time. They never say what speed or intensity to walk at so I feel you can't really believe the numbers they come up with. What do you think?


According to the activity calculator, you would burn 379 calories by walking for one hour at 3.5 mph on a flat surface at your present weight.  If you kept it up for two hours, you would burn 758 calories (and you would be quite fatigued.)  Believe or not, manual calculations are usually more valid than the machine calculators.



So 6 miles in 81 Minutes equals how many calories?



I am curious I walk 3 miles at about 4 mph and jog 3 miles at about 5.5 mph which is usually 1 hour and ten minutes a day and also work out about 40 minutes a day five days a week I eat about 1200-1400 calories a day am i doing to much or not enough?I have about 6 pound to go to be at my goal.I am 5:2 and weigh 121 please give me your advice



6 miles in 81 minutes means you were walking at 4.4 miles per hour for 1.35 hours.  The activity calculator will give you total burn for those numbers.



So, did you weigh about 600 lbs when you started? You must be burning calories like crazy.

What was your starting weight? How long have you been dieting this time around.



fantastic.



is there a difference between walking on a treadmill or outside on streets and sidewalks?



whatever the speed, it is essential to move every day. I am not trying to lose weight but get my body back... but it is also essential for me to move every day or my muscles will deteriorate. you need fresh air, you need exercise cause people were made like that. we were born to move around. it should be natural. modern world isn´t natural to the body. it stresses you, and it keeps sitting down much of the time. so steal a moment to move from the machine we´re stuck in, every day, cause thats what we are.



I find exercise difficult as i have back problems and also a neck and shoulder problem. Walking is great but i live in Scotland and it is often wet and very hilly,also having 4 children its difficult to get them motivated. I'd like a website that recommends ideal plasces to go and walk.



I only do 45 minutes of cardio 3 days a week and it's proven perfectly effective.  I do push myself really hard for that time, though, and I'm dripping in sweat at the end!  What I do is switch between the treadmill, the bike, and this elliptical trainer.  On the treadmill I walk at 4.2 mph, with 30 second to 1 minute sprints (depending how strong I feel) at about 8 mph every 5 to 7 minutes.  I also steadily increase the incline every 5 minutes after my sprint, so it will start at a 9 percent grade, and usually when I'm done it's at 12.5 or 13, depending how motivated I am that day.  On the bike, which I hate, I just pedal, but have more frequent intervals, with 1 minute of normal peddling followed by 1 minute of fast, hard peddling.  On the cross trainer, I just set it to this personal trainer program, which is also an interval program.  I swear by intervals!  Doing this interval routine and pushing my self in the amount of time I have, along with counting those calories, I've lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, so it's just as effective as that 60 minutes a day stuff :) 



When I say switch, I mean the first day is the treadmill, second day is the bike, third day is the cross trainer... Just to clarify :)



Since beginning my weight loss journey I have changed some habits by following good advice such as walking to the next station on my journey, going for a walk at lunch time, walking up and down the stairs instead of using the lift (elavator). Walking short distances instead of taking the car everywhere.

I tend to walk at around 3mph (which is average for most people). I probably walk a minimum of an hour day over the course of the day (walk to the station and back, lunch time walk). It all helps burn calories.

So for me its great to hear that 3mph is considered a moderate pace. I think I'll increase my pace a bit.

Anyway, I found mapmyrun.com very useful for working out how much your daily walk burns. For example the walk from my house to the station is 12 minutes. I used the site to measure the distance and if you put your timing in, it shows the speed and calories you would have burned. It was also useful for working out the distance around the path around my local park (mapped in satellite view).



I find that my Ipod makes power walking so much easier. My question is, is there a downside to listening to music when you want to better your performance? If you run does music effect your performance negatively vs walking? Have there been any studies that indicate positive or negative results? Anyone have opinions?  



Do you have shopping malls in scotland? Thats where I go to walk sometimes.  Or what about a school track?  Also try Lelsie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds program on DVD.  Its super easy and you can choose as many miles to walk as you want.  It did wonders for me after I had my c-section. Its the only thing I could do.



Original Post by: hlthygrl25

I only do 45 minutes of cardio 3 days a week and it's proven perfectly effective.  I do push myself really hard for that time, though, and I'm dripping in sweat at the end!  What I do is switch between the treadmill, the bike, and this elliptical trainer.  On the treadmill I walk at 4.2 mph, with 30 second to 1 minute sprints (depending how strong I feel) at about 8 mph every 5 to 7 minutes.  I also steadily increase the incline every 5 minutes after my sprint, so it will start at a 9 percent grade, and usually when I'm done it's at 12.5 or 13, depending how motivated I am that day.  On the bike, which I hate, I just pedal, but have more frequent intervals, with 1 minute of normal peddling followed by 1 minute of fast, hard peddling.  On the cross trainer, I just set it to this personal trainer program, which is also an interval program.  I swear by intervals!  Doing this interval routine and pushing my self in the amount of time I have, along with counting those calories, I've lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, so it's just as effective as that 60 minutes a day stuff :) 


Hlthygrl25, do you actually walk at 8 mph, or do you jog or run?  I could not possibly walk 8 mph!!  Congrats on losing the 2 pounds, but how do you know you wouldn't have lost more if you did 60 minutes per day instead of 45 min X 3 days a week?



Are you saying that I would have to walk more than 30 minutes daily to lose lbs??? I see some articles saying walk 30 mins daily is to maintain your weight??



It also depends on your caloric intake. More exercise usually makes me hungrier and then I have to be really careful how much I need to eat, versus how much I THINK I need to eat.

If your weight stalls at a certain point and you know your calories are controlled, then adding a different exercise or walking more should help.

GL I know it's so frustrating!

 



I just walked on treadmill 45 mins now.. burned 271 calories.. soo I am just learning about caloric intake..  I figured what my calories limit should be. it is 1400..  soo I should eat any food that add up to 1400 by the end of day.. right? Then it should help me lose weight?



I just did  5 miles in the heat, 87 degrees, weighed myself and I was a pound heavier than yesterday. I had a cup of coffee before and a 24 oz. gatorade after. Any thoughts as to why I'd be gaining weight when its this hot. I walk at the boardwalk and no one passes me because I powerwalk. I don't understand.



wyoung, what time did you weigh yourself yesterday?  Your weight depends on food in your gut, water in your system, as well as any fat you may have gained or lost.  Did you weigh yourself in the same clothes (or lack of clothes) both times?  Did you eat processed foods yesterday?  How much salt?  You can fluctuate 5 or even 7 pounds depending on all these factors, even if you lost a bit of fat.  As someone once said to me - fat is light, water is heavy.  One pound is two cups of water.



Wyoung, I usually weigh more after a  triathlon race or a runnning race. I think it's because I drink Gatorade, which has salt in it but I also think the muscles become inflamed when I use them as  racing is faster than my usual pace. And I think inflamed muscles tend to hold more fluid for repair.

If I wait 2 days to weigh myself, I always notice a drop in scale numbers/

Cvscolts: that sounds right to me! If you can stick with the 1400 calories, you should notice a change on the scale. My trouble like I wrote before, is that I get very hungry and choose high caloried food. I need more discipline.



Thanks for your comments, I wasn't aware of the inflamed muscles tend. Well, I had a family reunion over the weekend and over did it a bit. But Monday after my 5 miles I weighed myself around 1:00 PM. and was surprised to see only a 1 pound gain. I did drink a 24 oz gatorade after my 5 miles and before I weighed myself. Since I over did it I had a very limited calorie intake on Monday. I had a breakfast protein drink and for dinner I had a big salad and bowl of pasta. This was my meatless Monday dinner. Later I had 1 100 calorie snack.  Then  today Tuesday, did my 5 miles again, and it kicked my butt, very very hot. Weighed myself  again same time, same state of dress, butt naked, and I had gained another LB. Have to cut the grass tomorrow, so I'll probably skip my 5 miles, do some weighs, cut the grass and go to the golf range and hit 100 balls.  



Wyoung98, the inflamed muscles holding onto fluids is what I THINK happens! I'm not in the medical profession but the concept makes sense to me that if you're muscles are taxed from overusing them, they are going to need fluid to repair themselves. I hope this is true, but it makes sense to me because I weigh heavier after a very strenuous workout, say a 12-15 mile run for marathon training or 30 mile bike ride.

You sure have lost weight! How much?

 

 



Thanks Irish, I've lost 42 lbs. You look like my baby sister. I guess we're from the same tribe in the old sod somewhere, my grandfather was from Limerick.



Yes, I have read about muscles holding water also.  But it takes a pretty taxing workout to make this happen - usually you'll have sore or VERY fatigued muscles.  For me, that would be an all-day hike with a 4000 or more elevation gain.  A five mile walk is not likely to show this effect unless you are a beginning walker and quite out of shape.



An hour a day .  But I am figuring if you have went quite a few years without exercise that 30 mins a day is great.   at least for me it seems to be.



Funny, Wyoung98! My father was from Sligo, near the west coast. Must be the DNA of a small isle.

Good for you on losing 42lbs, it is quite obvious in your before and after photos. Did your scale weight adjust to more accurately reflect what you think it should?

 



Original Post by: moonduster

Original Post by: hlthygrl25

I only do 45 minutes of cardio 3 days a week and it's proven perfectly effective.  I do push myself really hard for that time, though, and I'm dripping in sweat at the end!  What I do is switch between the treadmill, the bike, and this elliptical trainer.  On the treadmill I walk at 4.2 mph, with 30 second to 1 minute sprints (depending how strong I feel) at about 8 mph every 5 to 7 minutes.  I also steadily increase the incline every 5 minutes after my sprint, so it will start at a 9 percent grade, and usually when I'm done it's at 12.5 or 13, depending how motivated I am that day.  On the bike, which I hate, I just pedal, but have more frequent intervals, with 1 minute of normal peddling followed by 1 minute of fast, hard peddling.  On the cross trainer, I just set it to this personal trainer program, which is also an interval program.  I swear by intervals!  Doing this interval routine and pushing my self in the amount of time I have, along with counting those calories, I've lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, so it's just as effective as that 60 minutes a day stuff :) 


Hlthygrl25, do you actually walk at 8 mph, or do you jog or run?  I could not possibly walk 8 mph!!  Congrats on losing the 2 pounds, but how do you know you wouldn't have lost more if you did 60 minutes per day instead of 45 min X 3 days a week?


"On the treadmill I walk at 4.2 mph, with 30 second to 1 minute sprints [...] at about 8mph every 5 to 7 minutes."

 



Hlthygrl25,

I like the intervals that you do during your cardio workouts, they are effective ways to ramp up the calorie burn and keep the workouts exciting.

The type of interval training you describe is just what triathlon training and marathon training does to increase speed. Thanks for the reminder, spring arrives all too soon, and now is the time to begin!



I am 60 and currently easing myself into an exercise routine. In the past I have been very active but for the past 8 months have slowed way down due to a stress fracture and continued pain in my foot.  I started doing Leslie walking dvds but am having trouble integrating weight training into my routine.  I used to do Turbo Jam and loved it but now I don't have the will to start it up again, not sure that my foot can handle the constant pounding.  Does anyone have any ideas to keep me on track?  Thanks, I am a newbie and could use all the help I can get. 



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