If you exercise, you may be working out less intensely than you think. Standard exercise guidelines advise moderate-intensity activities for at least 150 minutes a week (or 75 minutes of intense activity) for general health. But many people overestimate how hard they work out, as was seen in a Canadian study published in May 2014 in PLOS ONE.
After being given a copy of the basic exercise guidelines, 129 participants (mostly young women) were instructed to walk or jog on a treadmill at “light,” “moderate,” and “vigorous” intensities. Most of them overrated how intensely they were exercising and thus fell far short in their attempts at moderate and vigorous exertion.
Moderate intensity is generally defined as activity that raises your heart rate to 60 to 80 percent of your maximum exercise heart rate. Or you can use the “talk test”: If you can just engage in conversation—but not sing—while exercising, your intensity is moderate.