Cardiovascular Exercise – How Much Is Enough?

cardio guidelines

Cardiovascular exercise is anything that elevates your heart rate and helps you to break a sweat, including running, walking, hiking, and biking, among other activities. When performing cardiovascular exercise it is important to stay FITT! The FITT principle provides guidelines on the frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise you should be performing.

Frequency

Frequency is the number of days a week you should perform an exercise. For cardiovascular exercises, it is recommended to workout three to five times a week.

Intensity

Intensity is the level at which your workout should be performed. Check out "Working Hard or Hardly Working" to learn three ways to judge your intensity level. The easiest way to monitor intensity is the talk test. It evaluates how easy it is for you to hold a conversation. When you are performing cardiovascular exercise you should be able to say a few words at a time without gasping for air. If you are unable to talk at all, chances are you are working out too intensely. If you are able to hold a full conversation with ease, you probably could step up your intensity.

Time

When starting a cardiovascular routine, the total workout should be 20 minutes, which includes a 5-minute warm-up, 12-minute workout, and 3-minute cool down. As your fitness level increases, the time in your target heart-rate zone can be extended to 20-60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity.

Type

Select an exercise that will involve as much muscle mass as possible. For example, the elliptical machine with the arms will use more muscles than the elliptical machine that only works your lower body. Some examples of activities that create a constant heart rate response include: walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, hiking, cross country skiing, rollerblading, spinning, using an elliptical machine or stair climber, or taking aerobic classes, such as kickboxing, step, and cardio dance.