Many of you are making goals to go the gym, do thousands of crunches and run miles and miles through your neighborhoods. But what exactly is a balanced fitness plan, where should a beginner begin? Today we’re going to talk about where to start for cardio.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should perform moderately intense activity 5 days per week for 30 minutes OR intense activity 3 days per week for 20 minutes.
Here’s some examples of moderate to intense activity.
Gardening with a shovel
Cycling 8 to 11 mph
Roller or Ice skating
Here are some examples of intense activity
Spinning or vigorous cycling
Another way to look at it from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control): if you have a heart rate monitor or use cardio equipment at the gym, moderate activity is between 3.5 and 7.0 calories per minute and intense activity is higher than 7.0 calories per minute. (This is a general guideline based on the average sedentary US adult, if you’re very heavy, or have a health issue, the guidelines could be different for you, check with your doctor!)
1. You must do a minimum of 10 minutes at a time for it to count to your daily total. A two-minute dash to catch the bus doesn’t count.
2. You must break a sweat before you start counting the 10 minutes. The first bead of sweat on your brow is when you should check your watch and begin tracking.
3. Cool down period doesn’t count either. Stretching and slowing down your intensity at the end of your workout is great but it’s not cardio.
So here’s how to structure a brisk walk.
0 to 5 minutes. Start moving slowly to loosen up the joints and then start picking up speed. Somewhere in the first five minutes you should break a sweat. When you do check your watch.
5 to 15/35 minutes. Now you’re in the “cardio zone” keep going for a reasonable time period for you. If it’s 10 minutes and you feel like you’re cooked, fine, just slow down and head home. If you’re more fit or you have more time keep going as long as the 35-minute mark.
The last five minutes. You should be heading back home and walking leisurely. Your heart rate will start to drop off and you’ll feel relaxed.
1. If you’re very out of shape or have a medical issue such as arthritis, 10 minutes might be too much. Just go as far as you can on the first workout and then add one minute to your time each time you exercise again. Keep adding minutes until you reach 30 minutes per day.
2. The ACSM is a big proponent of 10-minute exercise bouts. As you can see above, that’s really more like a 20-minute commitment if you include warm up and cool down. Try sneaking in 10 minutes by
a. hopping on the exercise bike first thing in the a.m. for a fast 15 minutes, quick stretch, then cool down in the shower.
b. walk the dog briskly in the neighborhood. A 20 minute walk should be enough for the dog to do his business and for you both to get your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes.
c. walk to get your lunch. Remember you have to break a sweat so don’t wear that great silk blouse. You need to walk about 15 minutes away to get your lunch and then 15 minutes back. That’ll count for 20 minutes. Quick stretch and then back to your desk and your lunch!
3. This is only considered the minimum requirements to “maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.” The ACSM adds, “it should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity most days of the week may be necessary.”
I hope this clarified what can be some confusing guidelines. I’d love any feedback you have. Tomorrow we’ll talk about strength training guidelines.