(CNN) — If you’re wondering how to stick with your favorite workout, but want to make the exercise more intense, the “talking test” might be your answer.
The talk test is a way to measure the relative intensity of an activity and is based on understanding how physical activity affects heart rate and breathing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, for its acronym in English).
In general, being able to talk but not sing during an activity would make it moderate intensity, the CDC says. Your voice can be labored, physical therapist Nicholas Rolnick said, but it can hold a conversation. “It’s (your) heart rate elevated, but it doesn’t interfere with a workout,” said Rolnick, who lives in New York City.
Running is an exercise that could be made more or less challenging using the “talk test.”
It’s an easy method of scaling intensity without any complicated fitness technology or software, Rolnick said. The speech test can help you “make sure you’re reaching the exercise intensity you want to achieve to meet recommended physical activity guidelines.”
This activity might resemble a brisk walk, three miles per hour or faster, but not a brisk walk. Water aerobics, biking at less than 10 miles per hour on flat or level terrain, tennis and ballroom dancing might also fit into this level of intensity, according to the CDC.
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During the most intense training, it would be impossible to carry on a conversation, Rolnick said. You couldn’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath, says the CDC.
Exercises performed at that intensity may include running, swimming, singles tennis, aerobic dance, bicycling faster than 10 miles per hour or on inclines, jumping rope, walking uphill, or carrying a heavy load.
The World Health Organization has recommended that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity per week. That can reduce the risk of premature death, heart disease, hypertension, cancer and type 2 diabetes, according to the WHO.
Pregnant people should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises per week, say the WHO recommendations. And kids under 18 need at least 60 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity exercise (mostly aerobic activities) every day.
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