ACSM CARDIO GUIDELINES

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has instituted a list of cardiovascular fitness guidelines, which I have listed for you below.

  • The 3 basic components to any exercise conditioning session are warm-up, conditioning stimulus, & cool-down.

  • Warm-up & cool-down performed at approximately 50% of stimulus intensity (hold conversation without much difficulty).

  • Warm-up & cool-down may take 5-15 minutes, depending on age & fitness level.

  • Accumulate moderate-intensity exercise (40-60% of HRR) for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days a week, for a total of 150 minutes per week, or vigorous-intensity exercise (60-85% of HRR) for at least 20-25 minutes on 3 or more days a week for a total of 75 minutes per week. For weight loss, 50-60 minutes per day to a total of 300 minutes moderate exercise is recommended. (Intermittent activities in 10-minute increments have same health benefits as continuous activities.) *See "Intensity" below for explanation of HRR.

  • Frequency: At least 3-5 days a week.

  • Intensity: 40-60% of (HRR) heart rate reserve is considered moderate intensity and 60-85% heart rate reserve is considered vigorous. Very deconditioned individuals may begin to improve at about 30-40% of HRR. To figure your estimated HRR use this equation: 220 – age - resting heart rate x .60 to .85 + resting heart rate. For more on that check out the Target Heart Rate page.

  • Duration: 20-60 or more minutes per session, continuous or intermittent activity. If you are very de-conditioned you may even need to split it up into several 10-minute segments. Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! Increase your duration by 5 minutes a week until you reach your desired amount.

  • Type: Aerobic (run, brisk walk, swim, cross-country ski, dance, elliptical trainer, cycling, stationary bike, etc.)

  • The 3 stages of cardiorespiratory training: Initial, Improvement, Maintenance.

  • Progression of both intensity and duration in a single session is not recommended. Increase the duration first before increasing the intensity. If you can complete an exercise session at the upper level of frequency and duration for 2 weeks without signs of excessive fatigue, progress to the next level.

  • If training is discontinued, gains in fitness regress by approximately 50% within 4-12 weeks.

  • If weight loss is your goal, frequent, enjoyable exercise periods of low to moderate intensity and relatively long duration result in the largest weekly caloric expenditures.

  • Stay within your heart rate range. Monitor through a heart rate monitor or manually at carotid artery on neck or radial artery on thumb side of wrist.


    If you're ready to begin your aerobic training, click here to learn how to get started. There's no time like the present. However, be sure and check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

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