Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

How to Tell the Difference between Moderate and Vigorous Activities

One way to determine whether your activity level is moderate or vigorous intensity is to do the talk test: Rate your ability to talk on a scale from 1-10.

  • If you rate your level of breathlessness between a 1 and 4, you can have a somewhat regular conversation while working. You are working at a light intensity level.
  • If you rate your level of breathlessness between 5-6, you can talk but not easily carry on a conversation. You are exercising at a moderate intensity level.
  • If you rate your breathlessness between 7 and 10, you have difficulty talking and your word and sentences are broken. You are exercising at a vigorous intensity level.

Check this chart for examples of moderate and vigorous activities:

Moderate ActivityVigorous Activity
Walking 3 to 4.5 miles an hourRace walking or running 5+ miles an hour
Bicycling 5-9 miles an hourBicycling more than 10 miles an hour or uphill
Recreational swimmingSwimming steady laps

More expert recommendations for physical fitness

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