How do I get started with cardio exercise?

Start slowly and on the low end of the intensity scale and give yourself time to adjust and improve your fitness. If you’re completely new to cardiorespiratory training begin with something light like a brisk walk for 20 minutes, this will allow your body to adjust to aerobic training while minimizing the risk of soreness and overuse injuries.  Start with 2-3 sessions a week and keep your intensity high enough to make you sweat and get your heart rate up, but light enough you can still carry on a light conversation. Each week you can increase speed or duration, but do not increase it by more than 5-10% each week. As your fitness level increases gradually increase the number of sessions per week and the intensity or length of the sessions until you are performing 3-5 sessions of 60 minutes a week at a moderate to high intensity. A high intensity cardiorespiratory workout would be one in which you are working hard enough that you can only answer short yes or no type questions. Give your body plenty of time to improve and adapt, and eventually you will have a high level of fitness. 

If you are trying to make a healthy lifestyle change then consider 30 minutes of moderate cardio (walking, hiking, biking) 5-7 days per week. If you have no prior cardio exercise experience do not worry, just 5-10 minutes a day to start off will make a positive impact on your health. From there, you can gradually add 5 minutes to each workout every week till you hit the 30 minute minimum.

Remember to consult your doctor before starting any program to ensure your body can handle the stress of cardio workouts. To eliminate the guesswork when putting together a cardio program, please consider the F.I.T.T.E. principle, developed by NASM.  

Frequency: Depending on goals and capabilities, 3-5 days or 5-7 days per week

Intensity: Moderate for general fitness or 60%-90% to promote fat loss or athletic gains

Time: Minimum 30 minutes 5-7 days per week, 20-60 if time allows you

Type: Engage in activities that are safe, effective and are related to your goals

Enjoyment: You have to like what you do for it to be effective. So find an activity or a group of people with similar goals and GET MOVING!

Remember you do not have to do 30 minutes of cardio all at once. To ensure you see the benefits of your efforts, make sure you do three 10 minutes (no less) sessions of cardio each day. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends cardio 5-7 days each week with 30 minutes each day. So as long as you are getting a total of 30 minutes from three 10 minute sessions you will be making a positive impact on your health.


The best thing is to.... start. Just get moving whatever kind of activity it is sign yourself up. We want to get your heart rate up, so that we strengthen it, but everyone is different so you have to be aware of how you feel and I want you to feel comfortable. How about hiking? Dancing? The key is to think floating not pounding. You want to use and strengthen your muscles and not damage your joints, so pretend you are on top of a sheet of glass and you don't want to break it. I have a couple of cardio workout videos on my profile you can do in the comfort of your own home. They are short and have different levels. Why don't you try it now and keep me posted.
If you are just getting started with cardio exercise it is important to begin slowly. Cardio exercise includes any type of activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate. Activities such as walking your dog, cleaning the house, playing with your children, dancing to you favorite song, cycling, gardening, walking up stairs, or heading to the local gym to participate in an exercise class can all be used as forms of cardio exercise.

Begin slowly and progress gradually. Start out with 5-10 minutes each day. You could even do 2-3 sessions of 5-10 minutes of cardio exercise each day and slowly build up to performing 30-60 minutes, 5-7 days of the week.

Choose cardio activities that you enjoy doing. This is very important because if you enjoy what you are doing - you are going to keep doing it. If you don't like the activities you choose, then you will find excuses not to do them. Exercising with a friend or family member can also help increase enjoyment and committment levels.

Start with what you like!  You will be more likely to stick with a new cardio routine that you do not dread doing.  Listen to your body!  If you can only do 10 minutes the first time that is fine! You can gradually work up to longer sessions as you get use to the exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.