Step 1: Begin Cardiorespiratory ActivitiesWHY: To improve functional activities such as being able to walk further, faster, or uphill without fatigue or shortness of breath, or to maintain endurance for daily activities and independence. To improve efficiency of the cardiorespiratory system, improve endurance, and decrease in disease & mortality. Cardiorespiratory fitness is one of the most important controllable risk factors in death and chronic disease.
WHAT: Use of large muscle groups over prolonged periods in activities that are rhythmic and aerobic in nature. It's most important to do something you enjoy. Walking, hiking, running, stair climbing, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, skating, and skiing. Use Borg's (Borg, 1998) Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (View Exertion Scale Here), use a 12-13, "somewhat hard" activity to determine moderate exercise intensity. Those taking heart medication such as beta-blockers should use the exertion scale rather than their heart rate. Start slowly and progress intensity and duration slowly.
WHEN: 3-5 (most) days of the week.
WHERE TO START: (depends on initial fitness level) Begin 2 times per week at 10-15 minutes of a fun, low-level aerobic activity with exertion level of 12-13 ("somewhat hard"). Some research suggests that taking 10,000 steps a day is equivalent to roughly 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Wearing a pedometer can help tell you how many steps you take throughout the day. Therefore, you can choose a more structured program like swimming for 30 minutes or try to incorporate more walking into your daily routines using a pedometer.
HOW TO PROGRESS: Begin cardiorespiratory activities for 10-15 minutes for 3 days a week. Progress by increasing frequency per week (from 3 to 5), then gradually increase duration for workout from 5 to 10 minutes per week, then progress intensity each week (to maintain exertion level 12-13 "somewhat hard"). As your endurance improves, you will notice you will be able to do more activity at the same intensity.
GOAL: The goal for healthy adults is to attain a maintenance phase, exercising 4-5 days per week (exertion level 13, "somewhat hard"), for 30 minutes a day, or 10,000 steps most days of the week.
WHEN TO MOVE TO STEP 2 Begin adding flexibility and stretching exercises as soon as possible into your cardiorespiratory exercises as part of your warm-up and cool-down.
LIST OF AEROBIC ACTIVITIES: Walking, hiking, stair climbing, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, skating, skiing, jogging. (Running is not recommended as the first activity for people who are just becoming active; walking and hiking are more appropriate activities to start.)
SAFETY REMINDERS / WHEN TO CONTACT YOUR PHYSICIAN