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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Cardiovascular Training Guidelines


  • Aerobic exercise is important for everyone to maintain cardio-respiratory fitness and endurance.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing 20 to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise or multiple sessions of short duration (approximately 10 minutes) for three to five sessions per week. For individuals just starting an exercise program, a circuit training program is effective.
  • Aerobic exercise can be monitored using an individual's maximal heart rate (MHR) or rating of perceived exertion (RPE). MHR for individuals with SB may be significantly lower than normal, while RPE should be moderate to somewhat strong. (See NCPAD's General Exercise Guidelines factsheet for more information.)
  • Types of cardiovascular training that benefit individuals with spina bifida are upper-body calisthenics, using the rowing machine, hand cycles and arm ergometers, functional electrical stimulation-leg cycle ergometer (FES-LCE), and adapted sports such as, basketball, track, swimming.

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