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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Cardiovascular, Strength, and Flexibility Training Guidelines


An exercise program should feature each of the following three types of exercises done in combination to achieve maximum health benefits and improve overall quality of life.

Cardiovascular

  • Individuals should rate their level of exertion using the Rating of Perceived Exertion scale - (a range of 6 to 20).   A rating of six equates to “very light,” while a rating of 20 means “very, very hard.” Individuals should target a 12 to 14 on the rating scale while exercising
  • Individuals should focus on the duration, rather than the intensity of their workout.
  • Individuals should engage in brief walking sessions (20 to 30 meters) several times daily, to increase cardiovascular endurance. The walking surface must be level.
  • Individuals should perform exercises that use multiple, rather than single, muscle groups. Types of cardiovascular training include:  arm and leg ergometry, walking, cycling, and swimming.

Strength

  • If possible, individuals should perform multi-joint rather than single-joint exercises. Note that it may be necessary to limit the use of weights to conserve energy for other tasks.
  • Focus on increasing the number of repetitions rather than increasing the weight.
  • Individuals should begin with one set of five to 10 repetitions, and work up to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, three sessions per week.

Flexibility

  • Individuals should perform range-of-motion and/or stretching exercises on a daily basis to prevent contractures and to maintain overall flexibility.
  • Ideally, stretches should be held for 10 to 30 seconds, repeated three times, and performed three to four times daily.
  • Focus on main muscle groups, especially those more likely to develop contractures, such as the arms, wrists, fingers, shoulders, legs, and hips.
  • Avoid overstretching or hypermobility.

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