The first step in progressing your exercise is to determine if you are ready to move forward.
In the Aerobic Training section of the website, we discussed the FITT principle for developing an exercise prescription:
Frequency of your exercise
Intensity of your exercise
Type of exercise
Time or duration of the exercise
A progression in your exercise program could occur in any of these areas. Only make changes in one area at a time.
The goal for your prescribed exercise is 5 times per week. You also want to make sure you are active every day.
If you are not currently exercising 5 times per week, you can increase the frequency of your exercise as a way of progressing your program.
You can progress the intensity of your exercise by working harder.
You are not ready to progress the intensity of your exercise unless all three points below are true for you.
- Your rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is less than 11 (light work) on the scale. View or download the rating of perceived exertion (PDF, opens in new window) »
- Your heart rate during your exercise is below the training heart rate set by your cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation team.
- You currently do not feel any signs of shortness of breath, angina, chest pain, chest discomfort, muscle or joint aches or pains.
Do not progress the intensity of your exercise if:
- your current level of exercise is challenging (your RPE is greater than 13 or somewhat hard work)
- you feel unwell
- you have had a change in your medical status (new symptoms, new diagnoses)
- you have had a recent change in your medication
- you are getting used to exercising in new weather conditions
- your heart rate during exercise is above the training heart rate set by your cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation team
- you are happy with your current level of fitness
The type of exercise you do will determine how the intensity could change. Here are some examples for walking, jogging and cycling.
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- To progress the intensity of walking, increase the speed of your walk. Increase your speed by no more than 1 minute per mile (or minute per 1.6 kilometer) each time you progress your program.
- To progress the intensity of jogging, increase how often you jog or increase the length of time you jog in your routine.
- To progress the intensity of cycling, increase the speed (revolutions per minute) of your cycling or how much tension is on the fly wheel.
Type of Exercise
You may want to try a new exercise. For example, you might want to start cycling in addition to walking.
Variety is important, especially if you feel bored with your program.
Changing the type of exercise you do is a way of progressing your program.
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Time or Duration of Exercise
The duration of your aerobic exercise is important.
The goal is to exercise between 20 and 60 minutes each session depending on your level of fitness, medical history and goals.
The duration of your exercise is usually the first step in progressing your exercise program. You should increase the duration before you increase the intensity.
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