Moderate Vs. Vigorous Activity: What's the Difference?


By Holly Glaubitz, Health Educator


It's a confusing question: What's the difference between moderate physical activity and vigorous activity - and how much of each do you need if weight loss is your goal?

 Moderate activity is any movement you do throughout the day, like gardening, mowing with a push mower, being on your feet all day on the job or walking around all day. Moderate activity may make you breathe slightly harder than when you're sitting.

Vigorous activity is activity that makes you breathe harder than moderate activity would. It includes activities like brisk walking, running or biking hard, just to name a few.


 When it comes to activity, this is what we know: Even smaller bouts of moderate activity can help you achieve health benefits, both mental and physical. This is especially true among adults who are currently inactive.


 However, when it comes to weight loss, you need more activity in order to create a calorie deficit. In other words, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You'll get the greatest benefit for weight loss when you do activities that increase your heart rate beyond a moderate rate for 30 to 60 minutes.


 In fact, when people become frustrated with their lack of weight loss progress, there's often one common reason. When it comes to physical activity, they're not working hard enough to get their heart rate high enough to result in weight loss.


 So, how hard is hard enough when working out? Think of a scale from one to 10. One is how you feel lying in bed at night and 10 is when you feel like you can't take another step. If you stay in the four-to-six range when working out, this usually means you are elevating your heart rate enough that your activity can be considered a more vigorous activity.


 While many people start a physical activity program in hopes of losing weight, don't lose sight of the other benefits that you can get from even moderate daily activity. Those benefits include decreasing your risk for heart disease, increasing your energy level and improving