American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines- Cardiorespiratory fitness

A lot of my posts are ways to get fitness in or to avoid being sedentary, but for this post I wanted to get some cold, hard facts out about how much exercises is necessary to be healthy. There are many numbers that people may find when trying to figure out how much exercise is enough. This blog post is going to discuss the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for the appropriate amount of cardio-respiratory fitness that each person needs in a week. Cardiorespiratory fitness is defined as “a measure of the strength of your aerobic energy system.” (Shapesense, 2013). The ACSM recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in a week that exceeds our activities of daily living or the stuff that we normally do in a day.

Cycling for cardio

Cycling for cardio

These are the stated ways according to the ACSM that we can get our cardio fitness in daily:

Running or being chased for cardio

Running or being chased for cardio

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity. (ACSM, 2013)
Dancing for cardio

Dancing for cardio

These guidelines focus just on cardio fitness, not strength training, flexibility, or neuromotor exercise which I will explain more about in a later post.

Hiking for cardio

Hiking for cardio

So how do you know that you are exercising at the correct intensity? Moderate intensity is at 70% of your max heart rate, or being able to carry on a conversation but still breaking a sweat (Katch, 2011).

Walking to get your cardio

Walking to get your cardio

There are many factors that can change how you should calculate your heart rate (such as age, medications, weight) and the previous formula is a very simple one for the average person, so please speak to your MD or PT regarding what pace you should be exercising at before you start a program.

Stairs to get your cardio

Stairs to get your cardio

Other ways to get your cardio:

Swimming, cross country skiing, stationary cycling, elipiticals, zumba classes, jazzercise, etc.

The list goes on an on so find what works for you and figure out ways to get your cardio in 5 days a week.

Other posts to check out if you like this one:

The ACSM states that “Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity”. (ACSM, 2013). My take from this is, the good ones will help you take steps, but are not showing how fast you are walking so you may not be reaching your training threshold with simply taking steps.


“ACSM Releases New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise”. (2011). Retrieved from

Katch, V., McArdle, W., & Katch, F. (2011). Essentials of exercise physiology. Philadelphia:Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.


3 thoughts on “American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines- Cardiorespiratory fitness

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Cardio Training |

  2. Pingback: Musician takes to streets to drop pounds, get fit

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