Position statement on physical activity and exercise intensity terminology

J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Sep;13(5):496-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Dec 10.


The terminology used for monitoring and promoting physical activity and exercise among health and fitness professionals varies considerably. There is a large array of descriptor terms reported in the literature and used in day-to-day practice and this inconsistency can be confusing for clients and practitioners alike. The variation in terminology also makes it difficult to track changes in activity patterns over time and across studies. There are also a range of objective and relative intensity cut-offs used to describe the same intensity descriptors. This position statement addresses the question of standardisation of physical activity and exercise intensity terminology and makes recommendations that should assist those undertaking research and prescribing physical activity/exercise as well as those clients who are receiving professional guidance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Equivalent / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Sports Medicine / standards*
  • Terminology as Topic*