People who perceive themselves as active cannot identify the intensity recommended by the international physical activity guidelines

Prokop, Neal W.; Hrubeniuk, Travis J. R.; Sénéchal, Martin; Bouchard, Danielle R.
October 2014
Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine;2014, Vol. 5, p235
Academic Journal
Background: Many national and international organizations recommend that adults achieve at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity (PA) weekly, at a minimum moderate intensity to optimize health benefits. It is unknown if people who consider themselves as active have the ability to identify what is considered moderate intensity. Methods: Fifty-one participants who reported achieving a minimum 150 minutes per week at a minimum of moderate intensity PA were recruited through a local fitness facility. All participants underwent a single assessment involving questionnaires, clinical measures, and a treadmill test to measure the ability to perceive moderate intensity. Following the visit, participants' PA level was evaluated by heart rate monitor, while exercising, for 7 consecutive days. Results: Eighty percent of participants overestimated moderate intensity on the treadmill test; they were at vigorous intensity compared to what is considered moderate. Only 11.8% of participants accurately identified moderate intensity; all of them were women (P=0.03), had a high level of education (P=0.04), and knew that moderate intensity was the minimum intensity recommended by health organizations (P,0.01). Only 69.2% of participants reached the aerobic component of the International Physical Activity Guidelines with no significant advantage for those correctly identifying moderate intensity. Conclusion: Most people who perceive themselves as active are exercising at vigorous intensity while believing they are at moderate intensity. In addition, in this active sample, one-third of the participants were not reaching the aerobic component of the International Physical Activity Guidelines.


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