Excercise

Exercise Guidelines

Keep FITT with Aerobic Exercises

The term “aerobic exercises” literally means exercises that are designed to give your cardiovascular system a workout. These types of exercises get you breathing hard and get your heart pumping. Over time, this will have many health benefits including improving blood flow and in turn oxygen throughout the body. Your heart, lungs, and whole cardiovascular system will get stronger, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise can also help you reduce the risk for many other chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

 

The University Hospital Network (UHN) in Toronto follows the Cardiac College’s exercise guidelines for individuals living with cardiovascular disease to help keep them FITT:

 

  • Frequency – keep active with aerobic physical activity 3-5 times per week.
  • Intensity – exercise should be moderate to vigorous in nature, 40-80% of your target heart rate, or between 11-14 on a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.
  • Type – aerobic activity such as brisk walking, biking or swimming.
  • Time – strive for 20-60 minutes per day. New to exercise? Break your exercise up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day and slowly work your way up.

 

It is important to warm up before exercise and cool down after. The exercise should not feel too hard, though if it’s too easy, you won’t be getting the full benefits. Over time, your goal should be to make your exercise routine more challenging (or “progress” your exercise routine) as you get into better shape. Find out more about how to progress your exercise routine. 

 

IMPORTANT: During exercise, you should not experience signs and symptoms. If you do, stop exercising and call 911 immediately or the local emergency number in your area. Talk to your primary care provider or exercise specialist if you have questions about exercise.

Muscle Strengthening

For greater benefits, you should add muscle strengthening, flexibility, and balance exercises to your weekly routine. These types of exercises can increase muscle strength, improve bone health, and reduce the risk of falling so that you will find it easier to move around and do daily tasks.

Strength Training Guidelines

 

  • Frequency – complete 2-3 times per week, on non-consecutive days.
  • Intensity – between 11-14 on a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.
  • Type – select equipment (ex. free weight, machine, TheraBand) that is safe and comfortable for you.
  • Time – complete 2-3 sets, of 10-15 repetitions. Your routine should include 8-10 exercises focusing on major muscle groups.

 

Visit Cardiac College Resistance Training Exercises for a sample program. Talk to your primary care provider or exercise specialist before beginning a strength training program.

Flexibility Guidelines

 

  • Frequency – complete at least 2-3 times per week, or daily for best results
  • Intensity – stretching should be low intensity, and stretched muscle should feel tight with minimal discomfort.
  • Type – combination of static and dynamic
  • Time – when static hold for 15 seconds, and complete 4 or more repetitions when completing dynamic stretching.

Sample Walking Program

Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise that can be done almost anywhere including in the neighbourhood or indoors such as at a mall if weather is an issue. Below is a sample walking program that you can start with and modify to meet your goals and abilities.

 

  1. Start slowly – aim to walk every day! However if you are new to exercise, set a goal to walk 2-3 times per week and progress when you feel ready.
  2. Listen to your body – maintain a comfortable, natural pace and be aware of any signs and symptoms
  3. Wear comfortable clothing and proper footwear
  4. Be aware of the weather – tips for exercising in hot and cold
  5. Progress your exercise when you are ready.

Complete 2-3 x/week

  • Week 1 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 5 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 2 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 8 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 3 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 10 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 4 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 12 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 5 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 15 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute
  • cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)

Progress to 3-4x/week

  • Week 6 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 15 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute
  • cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 7 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 17 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 8 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 20 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 9 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 23 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 10 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 25 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)

Progress to 5-7x/week

  • Week 11 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 27 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)
  • Week 12 – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 30 minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)

Maintaining Exercise After Week 12

  • Weekly – 5 minute warm up (slow, 9-10 RPE) – 30+ minute walk (brisk, 11-14 on RPE), 5 minute cool down (slow, 9-10 RPE)

 

FITT Scale Table

​Number Rating Verbal Rating Example
​6 ​​No effort at all. Sitting and doing nothing.
7 ​​Very, very light ​Your effort is just noticeable.
8 ​​
​9 ​Very light ​Walking slowly at your own pace.
10 ​Light effort.
​11 ​​Fairly light ​​Still feels like you have enough energy to continue exercising
12 ​​
13 ​​Somewhat hard
​14 ​​Strong effort needed
​15 ​Hard
16 ​​Very strong effort needed.
17 ​​Very Hard ​You can still go on but you really have to push yourself. The exercise feels very heavy and you’re very tired.
​18 ​​
19 ​​Very, very hard ​​For most people, this is the most strenuous exercise they have ever done. Almost maximal effort.
​20 ​Absolute maximal effort (highest possible). Exhaustion

BORG, G. (1970) Perceived Exertion as an indicator of somatic stress.