They call it, “FEELING THE ZONE”
There is a magical point where exercise meets with productivity. Sometimes referred to as “the zone,” it is somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum ability. If you exercise above it, you risk injuries and an inability to continue. 1
How do you know when you're in the zone? Some people simply take their heart rate. Others prefer to monitor their level of exertion.
One way to know when you are over-training or not
Many fitness professionals prefer using the perceived exertion scale. It is a subjective rating of how hard you're working during exercise, based primarily on your breathing and evaluating your level of fatigue.
On a scale of one to ten, your optimum zone is anywhere between a seven and eight. Here are the guidelines for each level:
- Level 1: At rest. No feeling of fatigue. Breathing is not elevated.
- Level 2: Minor activity. Little or no feeling of fatigue. Breathing is not elevated.
- Level 3: A slow walk indoors. Little feeling of fatigue. Breathing is slow and natural.
- Level 4: A slow walk outside. Very slight feeling of fatigue. Breathing is slightly elevated, but comfortable.
- Level 5: A walk to the store. Slight feeling of fatigue. Aware of slightly deeper breathing.
- Level 6: A fast walk. A general feeling of fatigue, but you know that you can maintain it. Breathing is deep and you are aware of it.
- Level 7: Exercising vigorously. A feeling of fatigue, but you are quite sure you can maintain this level. Breathing is deep. Could carry on a conversation, but you choose not to do so. This is the baseline level of exercise that you should maintain in your workout sessions.
- Level 8: Exercising very vigorously. A definite feeling of fatigue. Breathing is very deep. You could still carry on a conversation, but you don't feel like it. You will not stay at Level 8 for very long.
- Level 9: Exercising very, very vigorously. A definite feeling of fatigue. You know you cannot continue at this level. Breathing is very labored, and it is very difficult to carry on a conversation. This is a level that many athletes train at. You should not be experiencing level nine and should slow down when you do.
- Level 10: You should not experience level ten. This level cannot be maintained for long, and there is no benefit in reaching it.
It is obvious how very personal this scale is — but that is why it usually works.
- Pain During Exercise: Should it hurt when I exercise?
- Can regular exercise prevent falls?
- Exercise: When you Shouldn't do it
- Fitness Class Benefits
- Fitness Class: Too easy? Too hard? How do you know?
- Fitness Equipment for Fitness Class
- Fitness Instruction for the Older Adult: BCRPA Guidelines
- Fitness Principles: Rules to Live By
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.
Perceived Exertion is directly challenged by the "work until you feel total fatigue" concept of training. The perceived exertion scale is probably most appropriate for older adults and especially for those who suffer from disabling conditions. ↩︎