Get up, get moving: Vigorous intensity physical activity – Part 2

Incorporate vigorous physical activity in your weekly exercise routine to reach your health and weight loss goals more quickly.

Adults ages 18 to 64 years of year should strive for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week or replace some or all of this time with more vigorous intensity exercise.  If you prefer a more heart pumping workout strive for a minimum of 75 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.  Increasing the amount of time you exercise each week also provides extensive health benefits.  A worthy goal is 150 minutes of vigorous exercise incorporated in your favorite activities such as basketball, swimming or race walking. 

Physical activity uses energy from the calories you consume each day.  Vigorous physical activity is more time efficient in burning calories.  It takes less time to burn calories when you are moving at a vigorous or intense rate.  Be mindful and make healthy food choices so you have the critical fuel necessary to sustain your weekly workouts. You do not have to be a world class athlete to exercise at a vigorous rate.   Choose indoor and outdoor activities you like to do.  Over time, increase the length of time you exercise, or strive to bump up your intensity level a little.  Listen to your body’s cues to avoid an injury. 

The following chart shows one hour of vigorous physical activity for a person weighing 154 pounds and the approximate number of calories burned during the workout.

Vigorous physical activity

Calories lost/hour
(154 lbs person)

Running/jogging (5 mph)

590 calories

Bicycling (>10 mph)

590 calories

Swimming ( slow freestyle laps)

510 calories

Walking (4.5 mph/13 minute miles)

460 calories

Heavy yard work (chopping wood)

440 calories

Weight lifting (vigorous effort)

440 calories


440 calories

Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 

Setting your own personal physical activity goals can be helpful to keep you moving and motivated.

The USDA SuperTracker is a helpful on-line tool for tracking your personal nutrition and physical activity plan.  Establishing your personal goals can help you to achieve the health benefits you value.

The following statement by Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin reminds us why we strive to reach our goals: "Americans will be more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward – something more than just reaching a certain weight or dress size. The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health. It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability."

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