Moderate intensity physical activity has been defined by The University of Illinois Wellness Center as the following, “Absolute moderate intensity exercise has been defined by public health experts as any activity that expends 3.5 to 7 calories per minute. A classic example of moderate physical activity is walking at a 15-20 minute mile pace.” Further examples can include but are not limited to Yoga, Brisk walking, and activities of daily living such as playing with your children.

Many athletes incorporate moderate Intensity physical training within their Periodization (Specific phases of training) programs.

This may take the form of activities seen as being of less physical stress, for instance a Tennis player may cycle in periods of swim type workouts to provide recovery from higher intensity resistance or competition phase training.


Other athletes that can benefit from what to them would be lower intensity but provide benefit for their Sport/Competition, Race Car Drivers find some benefits from Rock Climbing. This discipline produces increased concentration, activation of specific muscle groups used within racing the car at an intensity where the athlete is constantly thinking about hand and foot placements.

From the average individual perspective of placing lower intensity activities within your overall fitness routine there are a number of issues one should consider, we will outline a few of them:

1. For the exerciser of more senior age you will extend your life, recent research shows that moderate exercise could just be the key to living longer.

According to the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study performed by Cooper Institute in Dallas, joggers who moved at a moderate intensity (about 10-11 minute miles) had a lower mortality risk than those who ran more than 20 miles a week at a much faster pace (7 miles an hour or faster).

moderate intensity exercise_2

2. Performing lower intensity activities will lessen the chance of Injury as well, this has been a primary tenant of all athlete training that Intensity is cycled over each phase of the Season. It is just as true if you are training for general fitness.

Try to use less weight and repetitions the next time you work out if you have gone for maximal lifts in the gym on prior workouts. Or if you are choosing activities of fun mix it up by performing a lower intensity activity, for instance a Tennis or squash game on day 1 followed by 10 lengths of the local pool the next.

By changing training parameters from load assignment, reps, intensity and even total activity will allow your body recovery and protect joints.

3. Activities of lower intensity will subsequently allow you to perform your ‘competition best’ or influence your subsequent tough workouts to be much easier resulting in increased performance.

“Moderate intensity cardio sessions serve to prepare you to better tackle your HIIT workouts so that you have the baseline cardio fitness and active recovery necessary to make your HIIT sessions more effective in the long run,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Alabama.

4. Finally these type of training sessions and activities performed at a lower intensity have also helped lower blood sugar levels, and help your body process insulin more effectively.

One study done with a group of overweight diabetics found that the group that rode a stationary bike for an hour at a moderate pace lowered their blood sugar levels by as much as 50 percent in the following 24 hours while subjects who pedaled at a higher intensity for 30 minutes only lowered levels by about 19 percent .

“Moderate intensity exercise uses up excess blood sugar for energy which helps your insulin to not shoot up or down during the day; it’s best for those who are even pre-diabetic,” Olson says.

So therefore from The experts and studies cited it can be seen that if lower intensity exercise and activities are carried out more frequently to off set higher intensity or competition based training for athletes, it can foster an increase in performance levels, whatever your individual training state.


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Nov;43(11):2134-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821c00a7.

Secular change in cardiorespiratory fitness of men: Cooper Center Longitudinal Study.

Willis BL1, Morrow JR Jr, Jackson AW, Defina LF, Cooper KH.

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