Creating an Aerobic Exercise Program (Part B)
How Long and How Often?
Regular exercise is imperative. As we
mentioned, twenty minutes, three times per week is good for a
maintenance program. Four or five times a week is ideal for increasing
your fitness or aerobic capacity. Weekend exercisers-or
only-now-and-then exercisers-place themselves in potential danger
because the heart and body are not strengthened sufficiently to
withstand a really vigorous workout.
Note: While regular exercise is important, you should temporarily suspend it when ill or excessively fatigued.
About five minutes is all you need. Calisthenics (such as sit-ups and
push-ups) or any forms of movement that elevate your heart rate are
particularly good for warming up. These exercises serve to get blood
into the muscles and raise their temperature so they're not operating
cold. They also get the heart going gradually, rather than in one quick
burst, which could potentially be dangerous.
Cool down. After a period of vigorous exercise, cooling down is just as important as warming up.
gradual transition is good for the heart. During exercise such as
running or cycling, there's a greater volume of blood in the large leg
muscles. While the activity continues, the muscles are squeezing the
blood back to the heart and rest of the body. When the exercise is
stopped suddenly and completely, the increased volume of blood is still
in the legs, but now there is no contraction of the leg muscles to
return it to the heart and brain, so the blood pools there. Dizziness,
fainting, or even more serious consequences can occur. A gradual
(three- to five-minute) cool-down allows the heart rate to gradually
return to resting and eases the transition between vigorous exercise
and rest. Walking after running is a good example. (continues)
Adapted from B. Franklin, ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing
and Prescription (American College of Sports Medicine, 2000), and an
out-of-print publication by Susan Stewart, RN, and Richelle
Aschenbrener, RPT., produced by the Calabasas Park (California)
Center for Cervical and TMJ/Craniomandibular Orthopedics.