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How Does Trying a New Type of Workout Impact Your Body?

January 1, 2021

We examine how 10 common forms of exercise and activity affect your body by looking at the average WHOOP strain for each.


Is your daily workout getting stale? Are you tired of jogging that same loop around your neighborhood every morning? Maybe your weekly tennis or golf game no longer brings you the same enjoyment that it used to?

It’s never too late to start learning new things and trying new activities.

No matter what your preferred form of exercise is, switching it up will almost certainly have an effect on your overall level of cardiovascular exertion–or in WHOOP terminology, strain.

The WHOOP strain metric quantifies the stress your body takes on (using a 0-21 scale) from specific workouts and other daily activities. This allows you to see how various forms of exercise may affect your body differently.


Average Strain of Popular Activities

Below is the average amount of strain WHOOP members accumulate for each of the 10 activities logged most frequently in our app:

The average strain of the 10 most common activities logged on WHOOP.

The average strain of the 10 most common activities logged on WHOOP.

The time spent participating in each activity is a very important variable to take into account. For example, looking at the chart above, it appears that playing golf might be a more strenuous workout than swimming.

However, golfing is something people usually engage in for multiple hours at a time, while swimming is not.


Average Activity Strain for 1 Hour

To further understand the impact that these popular sports and exercises have on your body, we also took a look at how much strain our members accrue on average through 1 hour of each:

The average strain for 60 minutes of each activity.

The average strain for 60 minutes of each activity.

As you can see, golf is actually on the lighter side as far as workout intensity goes.

Another significant thing to note here is the seemingly low strain of weightlifting. While weightlifting can be very taxing on your body from a muscular and soreness standpoint, it’s much less effective in terms of cardio.

So if your goal is to try something new for an hour a day (or week, or somewhere in between), consider how hard you want to push your body. If your intention is to make it an aggressive workout, swimming, cycling, and particularly running are all great options.

But if you don’t want it to be too arduous an effort, walking, hiking, or even yoga could be what’s right for you.

Learn More: Podcast No. 26: Understanding Strain


How Long For a “Regular” Workout? (10 Strain)

If your aim is to achieve a consistent, moderate workout, you may want to target roughly a 10 strain for your exercise. Here’s how long it takes WHOOP members on average to get their strain up to 10 for each of these activities:

The average length of time it takes to reach a 10 strain.

The average length of time it takes to reach a strain of 10 for Each Activity.

Using the above graphic as a guide, if you’d like to get in a modest workout in half an hour or so, running is a smart choice. On the other hand, if you have an hour to fill, walking might impact your body similarly.

If you’re somebody who swims regularly and is curious to give cycling a try, you may be able to stick to your normal activity duration while still straining your body about the same amount (it’s worth noting that people often take breaks when exercising which are not accounted for here, likely more frequently in something like swimming than cycling).


See the Effect of New Workouts in Real Time

You can gain a deeper knowledge of how unfamiliar workouts and activities affect your body by tracking them with the WHOOP Strain Coach. It recommends optimal strain goals, shows your strain building in real time, and also displays your live heart rate, average heart rate, and calories burned as you exercise.


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