Focus Area 3: Improving Your Cardiovascular and Respiratory Fitness

Doing the activities in focus area 2 can increase your fitness level if they are done vigorously enough. You can also try a more traditional activity program that involves aerobic endurance activities focused on improving cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.

Aerobic activity strengthens your heart and circulatory system. For improvement to occur, several factors come into play, including your initial fitness level and the frequency, duration and intensity of training. Most people start to see improvements in one to two weeks.

Fitness Level

If you are at a low level of fitness, there is plenty of room for improvement. If your fitness level is already high, the amount of improvement you see may be small, but it can still be significant.


In general, it is necessary to perform activity at least 2 and preferably 3 days a week to bring about change in your body's cardiovascular system. If activity is being used for weight control, activities should be 5 or 6 days a week to burn more calories.


20 minutes of activity or longer will increase the pumping ability of your heart and improve the function of your muscles. If you do the activity at a lower intensity level (intensity level is described next), doing it for a longer period of time will offset the lower intensity.


Intensity of training is the most critical factor related to successful aerobic conditioning. It is how hard you do an activity, and this determines your cardiovascular improvement. There are a number of ways to determine how hard you are working:

  • by your heart rate,
  • by your perception of how hard you are working,
  • by the number of calories you burn during the session.

To continue, please select one of the choices below:

Find your heart rate
Find your perception of how hard you are working
Find the number of Calories burned during your activity