Simple exercise for one person may be very hard exercise for another person. When I first ask patients to consider walking 10,000 steps a day (I recommend this exercise later in this chapter), most of them look at me as though I'm crazy. Yet when they get up to that level, they realize that it isn't nearly as difficult as they imagined. Push yourself to the place where you're about to be out of breath, and you'll be doing moderate exercise.
The Perceived Exertion Scale is very useful in determining whether an activity is making a difference in your fitness (or your child's). To use the scale, you rate the degree of your exertion while performing a certain activity from extremely light to extremely hard, according to your personal physical ability level. Here's the scale:
1 Extremely light exercise is very easy to do and requires little or no exertion.
1 Very light exercise is like walking slowly for several minutes.
1 Light exercise is like walking faster but at a pace you can continue without effort.
il Somewhat hard exercise is getting a little difficult but still feels okay to continue.
i Very hard exercise is difficult to continue. You have to push yourself, and you're very tired. At this level, you have trouble talking. The very hard level of exercise is most beneficial.
I Extremely hard exercise is the most difficult exercise you've ever done.
To find out more about the Perceived Exertion Scale, go to www.cdc.gov/ nccdphp/dnpa/physical/measuring/perceived_exertion.htm.
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