Exercise Glossary

Aerobic Exercise
Exercises that cause a temporary increase in respiration and heart rate in order to condition your heart and lungs. Running, walking and swimming are considered aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises generally burn fat.

Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise involves brief bursts of exertion followed by periods of rest, where the body uses the energy from glucose and fuel stores in the muscles. Anaerobic exercises build muscles, complementing aerobic exercise.

Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprints, crunches and lifting weights.

BMI (Body Mass Index)
A formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat and gauge health risks due to carrying too much weight. The BMI is only one factor in determining a person's health risk. A BMI in the "healthy" range does not necessarily mean that you are fit and healthy!

BMI does not take into account lean body mass or body frame. A muscular, large-framed person's BMI could indicate obesity, but other indicators would show that this is not the case.

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
The estimated minimum level of energy required to sustain the body's vital functions when at rest. Usually, more than half of the calories burned in a day are those burned to keep your body functioning.

The more common unit of measure used for the amount of energy produced when food is oxidized (burned).

Usually refers to activities that increase your heart rate.

Referring to the heart and blood vessels.

Sound physically and mentally.

A joint's ability to move through a normal range of motion of bending and stretching the muscles surrounding the joint. Stretching exercises help improve flexibility.

Maximal Heart Rate( MHR)
Influenced by age, the MHR is the estimated maximum number of heartbeats per minute for your body when at 100% intensity. The standard formula for calculating your MHR is: 220 - age.

The process by which digested foods (nutrients) are converted into energy to be used by the body for vital functions. Metabolism is measured in calories. Many things can affect your metabolism, such as the percentage of fat vs. lean muscle tissue (muscle will burn more calories than fat).

See also Basal Metabolic Rate.

Muscular Endurance
The ability to sustain a prolonged stressful activity, such as repeated muscular contractions in weight training, usually with less than maximal weight, or prolonged aerobic activity, such as running a marathon.

According to the ACSM, muscular endurance is "best developed by using lighter weights with a greater number of repetitions."

Muscular Strength
The maximal force a muscle can generate.

According to the ACSM, muscular strength is "best developed by using heavier weights (that require maximum or near maximum tension development) with few repetitions."

A leveling off period that some people hit when trying to become fit, usually because the body is not being challenged anymore at the current intensity of exercise. A re-evaluation is needed, in terms of exercise and nutrition. Usually one needs to increase activity intensity to overcome a plateau.

Rate of Perceived Exertion
A scale developed by Dr. Gunnar Borg for use in testing where a subject rates how they are feeling during an activity.

Borg Scale

RPE Exertion
6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard (heavy)
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion
© Gunnar Borg, 1970, 1985, 1998

Borg CR10 Scale

RPE Exertion
0 Nothing at all
0.5 Extremely weak
1 Very Weak
2 Weak
3 Moderate
5 Strong
7 Very Strong
10 Extremely Strong
++ Absolute maximum
© Gunnar Borg, 1982, 1998

Source: A Comparison between Two Rating Scales for Perceived Exertion

Although this is used in testing, you can subjectively use it to track how you feel while exercising over a period of time.

The number of times an exercise is repeated in one set.

Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
Your pulse at rest. It is best to measure this first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, although you can measure your RHR after having been at rest for at least 10 minutes.

A group of a specific number of repetitions of a particular exercise.

Target Heart Rate
The number of heartbeats per minute at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise.