Safely Increasing Your Cardiovascular Exercise Tolerance
Last updated: February 2022
One of the biggest challenges I have had since my diagnosis is increasing my endurance when performing cardio exercise. It is easy to read on the internet and health websites ways to increase your cardio and usually, you are given a timeframe in which this all should happen. When you have a chronic condition that affects your heart, all of this goes out the window. Most health experts give advice tailored to those with healthy cardiovascular systems. I have tested out multiple ways to increase my cardio and have come up with a good way to increase it without advancing too quickly. It involves small steps that lead to big accomplishments, like jogging for 30 minutes!
Tracking your workout
The first step to doing this is finding an app on your phone that allows you to receive notifications each minute during the tracked workout. There are multiple apps out there that have this ability. I choose to track time instead of distance because there aren’t as many breakdowns of distance for beginners. Another good reason to do time over distance is that exercise should be measured in the amount of time spent exercising, not the distance traveled. The reason I suggest an app is because you don’t have to track anything yourself, you just have to listen for the notifications.
You can start tracking your fitness at nearly any level. For example, you could start using an app for tracking is jogging for one minute. If you are not cleared by your doctor to jog, you can still modify this to what you can do. For those who can’t jog for a minute, you can use this to build up to a minute and advance as you can. Even if you never make it to jogging for a full minute, you can use this for speed walking and slower walking instead of jogging and walking.
Ramping up your activity
Start by jogging for one minute followed by walking for four minutes 3-4 times a week. The four minutes of walking is for recovery. Do this for a half-hour, not including a five-minute warm-up walk and a five-minute cooldown walk. Many fitness experts will suggest speed walking to keep the heart rate up. I suggest using this as a recovery and walking at normal speed. Jogging speed is at whatever you are comfortable with. The main goal is that you do it regardless of speed. Once you can do this five-minute series for a week, up it the next week to two minutes of jogging and three minutes of walking. There is no time frame for advancing so take as much time as you need. Continue this until you can jog for four minutes and walk for one minute.
Once you reach a level of fitness where you can jog for four minutes and walk for one, you will increase your jog time by one minute and continue walking for one minute. This will continue until you are jogging for 14 minutes and walking one. At this point, you are connecting two 14-minute runs with a one-minute walk in the middle. The times won’t line up for a perfect 30-minute run once you hit 10 minutes of running, so I would suggest running after the second 1-minute walk until the 30-minute mark to maximize the amount of running. Hopefully, this will help you get to a point where you can jog for 30 minutes which should help you feel better in general!
Have you experienced shortness of breath in the last week?