Self-Selected Versus Imposed Exercise Intensities
The traditional method of prescribing the intensity of exercise is based on the scientific evidence that has shaped national PA guidelines regarding the overload training stimulus necessary to elicit health-fitness benefits. In this prescriptive paradigm, the health-fitness professional uses a GXT to determine target HR(s) or RPE(s) corresponding to a specific physiological threshold, such as the VT, or a range based on %VO2max. The individual is instructed to self-regulate exercise at the prescribed intensity. This procedure can be termed imposed exercise because the individual does not choose the intensity. This paradigm ignores an individual’s exercise intensity preference and may result in negative emotions that could decrease adherence. Allowing individuals to choose their own exercise intensity (i.e., perform self-selected exercise) has the potential to improve PA participation. In addition, research has shown that many individuals will choose to exercise at an intensity near the VT. Self-selected exercise may be an important link in the chain between the adoption and maintenance of regular PA that elicits both psychological and physiological benefits.
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