Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Is Your Workout Too Wimpy?

3 ways to tell you if your exercise intensity is too low, too high, or just right.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

No matter how hard you exercise, you can always find people who are exercising harder. As they speed past you on foot or bicycle, and lift seemingly superhuman amounts of weight at the gym, it's only natural to wonder: Am I taking it too easy?

"It all depends on your goals," say exercise physiologists James Hagberg, PhD of the University of Maryland, and Philip Clifford, PhD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

If your goal is to improve your health, you probably don't need to exercise as hard as people who are trying to lose a large amount of fat, gain a large amount of muscle, or train for competitive sports. That's especially true if you're older and haven't exercised in a long time.

Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

What Is Your Goal?

"Depending on what your goals are, there are no workouts that are too wimpy," Hagberg tells WebMD. "If we can get a [sedentary] 65-year-old out doing a slow walk for 30 minutes three times a week, it's a great step forward."

"For health, the message we'd like to get across is that it's important to keep moving, and do some exercise five to six days a week," Clifford says. "If your goal is weight loss, you probably don't need to worry so much about intensity as about increasing the duration of time that you're exercising."

To prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aged 18-64 exercise at moderate intensity for least 2.5 hours per week; or at vigorous intensity for at least 1.25 hours per week. To lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends up to an hour a day of physical activity.

But once you're in shape, you may need to keep challenging yourself. Here are three ways to tell what's too easy or too hard.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article