What is Light, Moderate, And Vigorous Activity?

In general, there are three different physical activity intensities, but how can you tell what intensity you are working out at? Here are some guidelines and examples, but the simplest way is to do the talk test. 

Light Intensity

Light intensity activities require the least amount of effort compared to moderate and vigorous activities, but it is acceptable because it encourages people to do more activity to gain additional health benefits, which may encourage a higher level of physical activity. Talk test: "I can sing" while doing the activity.



    • Casual walking
    • Bicycling (less than 5 mph)
    • Stretching
    • Light weight training
    • Dancing slowly
    • Leisurely sports (table tennis, playing catch, fishing)
    • Light yard and house work

    Moderate Intensity

    Moderate intensity activities mean you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. Talk test: "I can talk, but I can't sing" while doing the activity.


      • Brisk walking (3 to 4.5 mph)
      • Hiking
      • Bicycling (5 to 9 mph)
      • Low impact aerobics
      • Moderate dancing
      • Competitive tennis and volleyball
      • Yoga
      • Weight training
      • Housework that involves intense scrubbing and cleaning

      Vigorous Intensity

      Vigorous intensity activities means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. Talk test: "I can't say more than a few words without pausing for a breath" while doing the activity.


      • Race walking (more than 4.5 mph)
      • Jogging/Running
      • Mountain climbing
      • Bicycling (more than 10 mph)
      • High impact or step aerobics
      • Vigorous dancing
      • Karate, judo, tae kwon do, jujitsu
      • Competitive basketball, soccer, or football
      • Swimming laps