Author Unknown
Anna Maria Sapugay, M.D. jogging at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley, California



Exercises that improve the condition of your heart and lungs must be:

Brisk -- raising heart and breathing rates.

Sustained -- done at least 15 to 30 minutes without interruption.

Regular -- repeated at least three times per week. All exercises do not give you the same conditioning benefits for your heart and lungs. There are three different types of activities:

TYPE 1: Exercises that do condition heart and lungs.

         Cross-Country Skiing
         Hiking (uphill)
         Ice Hockey
         Jumping Rope
         Running in Place
         Stationary Cycling

These exercises are naturally very vigorous. They need to be done for at least 15 minutes, three times a week. Then they will condition your heart and lungs, burn off a lot of calories, and give you many other benefits such as more energy and greater resistance to stress.

TYPE 2: Exercises that can condition heart and lungs if done briskly.

         Downhill Skiing
         Field Hockey
         Tennis (singles)

These activities are moderately vigorous but can be excellent conditioners, if done briskly for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. When done briskly, they give the same benefits as the type 1 activities.

TYPE 3: Exercises that do not condition heart and lungs.

         Golf (on foot or by cart)

These activities by nature are not vigorous or sustained. They still have certain benefits -- they can be enjoyable, help improve coordination and muscle tone, and help relieve tension. However, they neither condition the heart and lungs nor burn off many calories.


The key to a successful exercise program is choosing an activity (or activities) that you will enjoy. Here are some questions that can help you choose the right kind of exercise for you:

1.  How physically fit are you?

2.  How old are you?

3.  What benefits do you want from exercising?

4.  Do you like to exercise alone or with other people?

5.  Do you prefer to exercise outdoors or in your home?

6.  How much money are you willing to spend for sports equipment or facilities?

7.  When can you best fit the activity into your schedule?

By choosing activities you like, you will be much more likely to exercise regularly, keep on exercising, and enjoy its many benefits.


Most people do not need to see a doctor before they start since a gradual; sensible exercise program will have minimal health risks. However, there are some people who should seek medical advice. To find out if you should consult a doctor before you start, use the following checklist.

Mark those items that apply to you:

___ Your doctor said you have heart trouble, a heart murmur, or you have had a heart attack.

___ You frequently have pains or pressure -- in the left or midchest area, left neck, shoulder or arm -- during or right after you exercise.

___ You often feel faint or have spells of severe dizziness.

___ You experience extreme breathlessness after mild exertion.

___ Your doctor said your blood pressure was too high and is not under control. Or you don't know whether or not your blood pressure is normal.

___ Your doctor said you have bone or joint problems such as arthritis.

___ You are over age 60 and not accustomed to vigorous exercise.

___ Your father, mother, brother, or sister had a heart attack before age 50.

___ You have a medical condition not mentioned here which might need special attention in an exercise program. (For example, insulindependent diabetes.)

If you've checked one or more items, talk to your doctor before you start. If you've checked no items, you can start on a gradual, sensible exercise program tailored to your needs.


Build up slowly. No matter where you begin, you will be able to build up your exercise time or pace as your body becomes more fit. You can find out how hard to exercise by keeping track of your heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can beat. The best activity level is 60 to 75 percent of this maximum rate. This 60-75 percent range is called your heart rate Target Zone.

When you begin your exercise program, aim for the lower part of your heart rate Target Zone (60 percent) during the first few months. As you get into better shape, gradually build up to the higher part of your Target Zone (75 percent). After 6 months or more of regular exercise, you can exercise at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate -- if you wish. However, you do not have to exercise that hard to stay in good condition.

To find your heart rate Target Zone, look for the age category closest to your age and read the line across. For example, if you are 43, the closest age on the chart is 45; your heart rate target zone is 105 to 131 beats per minute.

                        Heart Rate                             Average Maximum
Age                  Target Zone 60-75%             Heart Rate 100%
20 years          120-150 beats per min.          200 beats per min.
                         (60-75% of 200 beats)
25 years           117-146 beats per min.          195 beats per min.
30 years           114-142 beats per min.          190 beats per min.
35 years           111-138 beats per min.          185 beats per min.
40 years           108-135 beats per min.          180 beats per min.
45 years           105-131 beats per min.          175 beats per min.
50 years           102-127 beats per min.          170 beats per min.
55 years            99-120 beats per min.           165 beats per min.
60 years            96-120 beats per min.           160 beats per min.
65 years            93-116 beats per min.           155 beats per min.
70 years            90-113 beats per min.           150 beats per min.

Your maximum heart rate is usually 220 minus your age. However, the above figures are averages and should be used as general guidelines.

To see if you are within your heart rate Target Zone, take your pulse immediately after you stop exercising. Count it for 30 seconds and multiply by two. If your pulse is below your Target Zone, exercise a little harder the next time. If you're above your Target Zone, exercise a little easier. And if it falls within the Target Zone, you're doing fine. Once you're exercising within your Target Zone, you should check your pulse at least once each week during the first 3 months and periodically thereafter.


Each exercise session should last from about 25 to 40 minutes and include:

      5 minutes           Warm Up
      15-30 minutes   Exercising in Your Heart Rate Target 
                                  Zone (15 to 30 minutes is your goal --
                                  begin with a shorter period and build up
      5 minutes           Cool Down
      25-40 minutes   TOTAL


Feel Better
Look Better
Do Better

Enjoy life more fully!

Exercise briskly at least 15-30 minutes three times a week.


U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Washington D.C.

If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information here, you are advised to contact your health care provider.