There’s no denying the importance of exercising and its effects on your overall health and well-being. But when it comes to physical activity, you want to incorporate moderate and vigorous exercise into your routine. What is vigorous exercise?
It’s true that some types of exercise activity provide more health benefits than others. Walking, dancing, and hiking are great ways to get your heart pumping vigorously – leaving you feeling invigorated and ready to take on the day.
This article explores vigorous exercise, what kinds of activities it entails, its potential health benefits, and more. As always, make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new sort of exercise routine.
“Resilience isn’t just key to happiness; it’s key to success.”
― Tony Horton, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life
What Is Vigorous Exercise (Or High Intensity Exercise)?
Essentially, vigorous exercise or activity is anything that causes you to breathe hard and fast and reach a certain maximum heart rate. Things like jogging or running, strength training, brisk walking, fast swimming, bike riding, high intensity cardio, and skipping rope are considered high intensity exercises because of their energy expenditure and perceived exertion (or how hard your body feels like it’s working).1
Vigorous exercise (a.k.a. vigorous physical activity or vigorous activity) is different from moderate exercise due to the exercise intensity of the various activities. While walking is a great way to exercise, high intensity exercise is typically one of the fastest ways to burn more calories and fat, depending on your exercise or weight loss goals.2
Additionally, many vigorous exercise activities are considered aerobic exercise or aerobic activity. This type of exercise has countless potential benefits for your overall health.
- Blood Sugar Levels: According to research, regular physical activity may help support healthy levels of your body’s insulin and blood sugar levels. If improving your health is a big fitness priority for you, try incorporating more vigorous exercise activities into your weekly routine.3
- Blood Pressure: Studies have found that controlled aerobic exercise may help support healthy blood pressure levels in older adults, so get those jogging shoes ready.4
- Sleep: Cardiovascular exercise supports blood flow, which in turn, might support better sleep.5 If you need to rest up, try getting that heart rate up with some high intensity swimming, cardio, hiking, or bike riding.
- Weight: If your fitness goals include shedding some body fat, aerobic exercise is one of the best ways of doing that. Depending on your weight and speed, a one-hour jogging session can burn up to approximately 400 to 600 calories.6
So, when you’re assessing your weight and fitness goals, consider including some vigorous aerobic physical activity in order to help you reap these benefits and then some.
Vigorous Intensity Exercise: Intense Physical Activity To Reach A Target Heart Rate
When exercising, you’ll want to strive for an optimal target heart rate. Vigorous intensity exercise requires a maximum heart rate of 142-172 beats per minute.7 If you wear a smartwatch that records your heart rate while running or skipping rope, you’ll be able to tell pretty easily if you’re in the correct target heart rate range.
Reaching and maintaining your target heart rate is important. A higher heart rate typically means you’re getting a better, more effective workout.8
Try These High Intensity Workouts
Adding more vigorous exercise into your fitness routine offers great potential health benefits, and it might even help support longevity.9
Here’s a quick list of high intensity exercises to get you started:
- Interval training: This is a great type of exercise to start out with; it allows you to build up some stamina while still reaching the appropriate target heart rate. Interval training will definitely get your heart pumping in no time with some high intensity exercise.
- Rowing: While rowing is another great calorie burner, it’s also another great full-body workout if you’re looking to combine your vigorous intensity exercise with a little something extra.
- Treadmill: Whether it’s a brisk walk or run, nothing can get your heart rate pumping like a solid session on the treadmill. 20 minutes is all you need to feel the burn.
- Aerobic dancing: Aerobic fitness dance classes allow you to sample multiple genres of dance, and they’re a great form of vigorous exercise that doesn’t quite feel like exercise. You may just forget about all of the calories you’re burning. Again, some class levels can be considered moderate aerobic activity or moderate intensity exercise, so be sure you’re reaching your target heart rate.
- Jumping rope: Jumping rope is a great form of high intensity activity because it burns a large number of calories and can be done anytime, anywhere (especially if you’re on a time crunch).10
If you’re struggling to incorporate these kinds of exercises into your weekly fitness routine, you’ve got other options. Even things like rigorous yard work (think: digging, hoeing, or even some gardening) can count as vigorous exercise depending on your target heart rate.11
So, the next time you find yourself having to do yard work in a week where you haven’t gotten much exercise, don’t sweat it. It may just count as exercise.
Taking Vigorous Exercise Outdoors
Feel like getting outdoors without the yardwork aspect? No problem. Here are a few more vigorous, intense exercise activities you can do outside if you find you need to get out of the house:
- Hiking (especially with a backpack on): While a leisurely hike is nice, it doesn’t quite hit the exercise intensity required for vigorous exercise. A hike that feels like a brisk walk, on the other hand (especially if you’re carrying some weight with you), will have that heart rate increasing in no time.12
- Mountain biking/cycling: If biking is your exercise of choice, you’ll want to try and hit a speed of 12 miles an hour or more for it to count as vigorous intensity, otherwise it’s a more moderate activity.13
- Swimming laps: Swimming is another great full-body workout. Swimming laps may help to ensure that your heart rate is where it should be for a vigorous exercise, and it burns plenty of calories.14
- Rock climbing: This is a great exercise that’s pretty low impact while still helping you burn calories, build muscle strength, and get your heart pumping. If the other physical activities on this list don’t intrigue you, rock climbing could be a great alternative.15
One Last Thing
Ultimately, vigorous physical activity is all about promoting your health and well-being. With that being said, you should still make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen. Once you get their approval, be sure to add a few days of vigorous exercise into your weekly schedule if you want to feel healthier and achieve that target heart rate.
The best part about high intensity exercise is that there are plenty of different ways to achieve it. Whether it’s a jog, hike, or some form of aerobic activity, there’s no one correct way to attain vigorous exercise intensity. Once you’ve found the type of exercise program or vigorous intensity activity that feels like a natural addition, be sure to keep it moving toward that maximum heart rate for a wonderfully beneficial workout.
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