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Cardiovascular Exercise
Measuring Intensity
Strength Training
Stretching and Flexibility
A Suggested Workout Routine

Cardiovascular Exercise

Physical activity is voluntary bodily movement that burns calories. Examples of physical activity are walking to the store, housework, gardening, and choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. These activities can easily be incorporated into daily life. Daily physical activity helps promote general health and wellness.

Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity and is defined as planned, structured, and repetitive movements done to improve or maintain physical fitness. Cardiovascular (“cardio”) exercise is more intense than daily physical activity but is necessary to obtain optimal health benefits and to lose or maintain weight.

Cardiovascular exercise increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Aerobic activities help make your heart stronger and more efficient. They also burn more calories than normal daily activities.

Examples of cardiovascular exercises are brisk walking, jogging, aerobics, swimming, bicycling, aerobic equipment (treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical), dancing, hiking and recreational sports.

Cardiovascular exercise increases circulation, reduces risks of heart attack and stroke, lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate, improves ratio of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol, helps control blood sugar, reduces risks of type II diabetes, improves lung function increasing the amount of oxygen in blood, boosts immune system, strengthens bones, keeps joints healthy, improves coordination, increases energy level, slows the aging process and the list goes on.

Basic cardiovascular health benefits can be obtained by participating in 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a minimum of three days a week, although, additional benefits occur with added days of activity, up to six days a week.

If you are just starting out, it is more important to focus on frequency and time rather than intensity. After you are able to work out three days a week for 20 minutes, you can adjust the intensity of your workouts.

To improve your physical fitness level, your body must be progressively challenged. Improvements can result from either a change in frequency, intensity, duration or type of exercise.

Measuring Intensity

Certain medications alter heart rate. Please talk to your doctor or ask our exercise physiologist before you begin an exercise program.

There are two basic ways of measuring intensity: Target heart rate and rate of perceived exertion. A third method is the talk test: If you can’t talk, decrease the intensity. If you can sing, increase the intensity.

Target Heart Rate

To calculate your target heart rate zone (THRZone)

220 – Your Age = maximum heart rate (MaxHR)

MaxHR X 0.60 = Beats Per Minute ~ Low End of THRZone

MaxHR X 0.85 = Beats Per Minute ~ High End of THRZone

To calculate your THRZone for a 10-second count, divide both answers by 6

Take your pulse for 10 seconds while exercising to ensure you are working at the appropriate intensity. To take your pulse, press the tips of your index and middle finger against the inside of the opposite wrist, just below the mound at the base of your thumb. Count how many pulsations you feel in 10 seconds. The 10-second count should fall in your zone; if not, adjust intensity accordingly.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

RPE is how you feel expressed on a scale of 0-10, with 0 equaling minimal exertion/resting and 10 equaling maximal exertion/sprinting up a hill. You want your RPE to be somewhere between 4 (brisk walking) and 8 (running/climbing stairs).

Strength Training

Strength Training, sometimes called resistance training, is exercise performed in order to increase muscular strength and endurance.

Incorporating a sensible strength training routine into your exercise program will help you to:

  • Increase muscle mass; adults who do not strength train lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade. Strength training can prevent this loss.
  • Increase metabolism; muscle tissue burns more calories, reducing body fat!
  • Increase bone mineral density; reducing risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reduce arthritic pain; stronger muscles decrease joint pressure.
  • Improve glucose metabolism, reducing risk of type II diabetes.
  • Increase gastrointestinal transit time, reducing risk of colon cancer.
  • Reduce low back pain; strong back muscles are less likely to be injured and strong abdominal muscles can take the strain off the low back.
  • Look, feel and function better!

At The Wellness Center, you can incorporate strength training through the use of:

  • Technogym Machines
  • Free Weight Equipment
  • Resistance Equipment (elastic straps, balance balls, etc.)
  • Fitness Classes

Stretching and Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability of a particular joint to move through its complete range of motion. Stretching can help to increase your flexibility and also increase mental and physical relaxation, increase body awareness, reduce risk of injury and reduce muscular soreness and tension.

  • Stretching can be done daily or at least three times a week.
  • Before you stretch, make sure you are properly warmed up, or you can incorporate stretching after cardio as part of your cool down. Stretching before your muscles are warmed up may result in injury.
  • Slowly move into each stretch going to the point of mild tension (not pain), holding for 10-30 seconds then slowly releasing.
  • Never bounce into or during a stretch. Jerky movements can cause muscles to tighten, possibly leading to injury.
  • Remember to breathe naturally throughout the stretch; do not hold your breath!
  • Try to repeat each stretch at least twice or more if you have time.

A Suggested Workout Routine

  • Warm-Up: 5-10 minutes of cardio to increase your body temperature, get the blood flowing to the working muscles, and prevent injury
  • Strength Training and/or Cardio: 20-40 minutes
  • Cool-Down: Slow down the pace or take a few laps around the track to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. 5 minutes.
  • Stretch: 5 minutes

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DeKalb Medical Wellness Center
2665 North Decatur Road
Ground Floor
Decatur, GA 30033


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