• The Talk Test & Other Physical Activity Tools


    How to Take the Talk Test

    The Talk Test is the simplest way to determine the intensity of your physical activity—or how hard your heart is working. You simply exercise at an intensity that is comfortable for you to maintain conversation.  You should be just barely be able to respond in conversation, with some breathlessness, usually accompanied by sweating. 

    One easy way to administer the talk test is to ask the person exercising to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  If you are able to recite this and continue the physical activity, then the intensity is considered safe and appropriate for your improvement in cardiorespiratory endurance. 

    If you're doing moderate-intensity activity, you can usually talk, but not sing, during the activity. Whereas, if you're doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

    Research has shown the Talk Test is as appropriate as Target Heart Rate for testing intensity.  It also accounts for your current physical fitness level, allowing you to pay close attention to your body and only work as hard as you are able to. It also doesn’t require any equipment or complicated techniques. 

    Heart Rate Table (from American Heart Association)

    The table below shows estimated target heart rates for different ages. Look for the age category closest to yours, then read across to find your target heart rate.


      Target HR Zone
      50–85 %

      Average Maximum
      Heart Rate
      100 %

      20 years

      100–170 beats per minute

      200 beats per minute

      25 years

      98–166 beats per minute

      195 beats per minute

      30 years

      95–162 beats per minute

      190 beats per minute

      35 years

      93–157 beats per minute

      185 beats per minute

      40 years

      90–153 beats per minute

      180 beats per minute

      45 years

      88–149 beats per minute

      175 beats per minute

      50 years

      85–145 beats per minute

      170 beats per minute

      55 years

      83–140 beats per minute

      165 beats per minute

      60 years

      80–136 beats per minute

      160 beats per minute

      65 years

      78–132 beats per minute

      155 beats per minute

      70 years

      75–128 beats per minute

      150 beats per minute

    Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures above are averages, so use them as general guidelines.