IMG_5072The foundation for an activity plan to maintain or improve your health is exercise that increases your heart rate. You may have heard it called cardio training,  aerobic training, or endurance training.  We will call it cardio training.  Cardio training can be anything that increases your heart rate, makes you breathe harder, and makes you sweat for at least 10 minutes.  The chart below shows the current recommendations for everyone to maintain their health.  If you can not do this much exercise now that is OK.  Start with what you can do safely.  It does not matter where you start.  Get started and do what you can.  You may be surprised at what you can do in a few weeks!


FITT principle   

Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type of exercise.

Number of Sessions Per Week
Level of Exertion
Duration of Exercise Session
Type of Exercise
3 – 7 days/week Heart rate Exertion levelTalk testChest pain At least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Cardio exercise.Walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc
2 – 3 non-consecutive days per week 8 to 15 repetitions with the last repetition being difficult but done with proper technique 1 to 3 sets of upper and lower body and core (trunk) exercises Resistance Exercise.Weight machines, free weights, elastic bands, body weight resistance
3 – 7 days per week Gentle stretch without pain 30 seconds per stretch at least once for each of the major muscle groups Flexibility Exercises.Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, PNF
2 to 3 days each week Challenging but safe activities 20 to 30 minutes Balance Training.Tai Chi, Yoga. Balance activities can be combined with stretching and resistance training exercises.


There are 3 components to a cardio training workout:

1. Warm up – this consists of gradually warming up the muscles prior to exertion. This is the best way to avoid injury. If you walk for exercise then warm up by walking slowly or on level ground for the first 3 to 5 minutes before increasing your speed and incline.  You want your blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate to increase gradually.

2. Peak/conditioning Phase – 20 – 60 minutes of continuous activity.  Intensity determined by the “talk test”, Rating of Perceived Exertion or the Target Heart Rate.

3. Cool down – When the workout is coming to an end it is necessary to slow the body down prior to completion so the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature return gradually to resting levels. If you are walking, slow down or decrease your incline for the last 3 to 5 minutes of your workout.

Be aware of the following symptoms and seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Unusual or severe shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Severe chest pain
  • Moderately severe to severe chest pain or pain radiating up the neck and into the jaw
  • Nausea
  • Severe leg pain
  • New or more discomfort in a joint than usual.
  • Pain running down your shoulders
  • Confusion

Examples of light, moderate, and vigorous activities.

Light Intensity (up to 40% of heart rate reserve)

  • Strolling
  • Exercise bike with no resistance or cycling on smooth, level ground
  • Golf, bowling, curling
  • Light water exercise

Moderate Intensity (40% to 60% of heart rate reserve)

  • Brisk walking up a small incline
  • Cycling with resistance or on hills
  • Swimming, water aerobics
  • Dancing with a fast tempo
  • Tennis

Vigorous Intensity (more than 60% of heart rate reserve)

  • Brisk walking uphill
  • Running
  • Cycling with resistance or on hills
  • Swimming at a faster pace or water aerobics
  • Competitive soccer, full court basketball