As you progress in your aerobic exercises, you can modify your plan to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Aerobic plan progression

Follow the plan here to continue to increase your frequency, intensity and time of walking, or other aerobic activity.

Program stage Week Frequency (days per week) Intensity: Exertion level RPE* (10 pt) Duration (min)
Improvement 1-4 4 Somewhat hard 4 25-30
5-7 4 Somewhat hard 4 30-35
8-10 4 Somewhat hard 4 35-40
11-13 4 Somewhat hard-Hard 4-5 40-45
14-16 4-5 Somewhat hard-Hard 4-5 45-50
17-20 4-5 Hard 5-6 50-55
21-24 4-5 Hard 5-6 55-60
Maintenance 25+ 4-5+ Somewhat hard-Hard 4-6 30-60

*RPE = Rating of Perceived Exertion. See below for further information.

Table adapted from Warburton, et al. 2006.

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Pick the number matching the word or phrase that best reflects your total amount of physical stress, effort and fatigue while doing an exercise. This number identifies your exercise intensity. Record this number on your exercise log after each session.

0 Rest Light intensity: Easy walking, golf, gardening, dusting, laundry, stretching, yoga, curling, bowling
1 Very light
2 Light
3 Moderate Moderate intensity: Brisk walking, climbing stairs, mowing the lawn, swimming, dancing
4 Somewhat hard
5 Hard (breathing deeply)
7 Very hard (out of breath) Vigorous** intensity: Running, fast cycling, hockey, basketball, gym workouts
10 Maximal

**Vigorous physical activity can be started after a period of regular physical activity and with the approval of your doctor or with the guidance of a qualified exercise professional.

When to seek help

You should seek help from a health-care provider if you have:

  • Difficulties with the exercises.
  • Feel too much discomfort trying to exercise such as shortness of breath, pain in the chest or arms, joint pain, or episodes of light headedness.
  • Frequent low blood glucose (sugar).

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