Safe and Healthy Exercise Fact Sheet

Toolkit for Implementing the Chronic Care Model in an Academic Environment

Summa Health System developed this fact sheet for patients who need to begin an exercise program. Care providers give it to patients during diabetes planned visits, and it is part of the Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook.
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Safe and Healthy Exercise

Family Medicine Center of Akron

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Your doctor has recommended an exercise program. Exercise is helpful for people with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart failure, coronary artery disease, poor circulation, and excess weight. The information here is general in nature, and is intended to help you begin a safe and successful walking program.

Safety Precautions:

  • Walking is very safe, but if you have chest pain or shortness of breath that makes you stop walking or prevents you from walking, you should consult with your doctor before beginning a walking program.
  • Once you start exercising, if you feel any chest pressure, severe shortness of breath, jaw pain, faintness or dizziness, you should Stop Exercising Immediately! Then, call your physician.

Why Walk?

Walking can be for everyone, regardless of age, lifestyle or physical condition. Walking is:

Healthy: Walking is good aerobic exercise. It improves circulation, relieves stress and builds strength and endurance.
Convenient: You can do it anywhere, anytime, by yourself or in a group.
Inexpensive: All that is necessary are supportive, comfortable shoes.
Injury Free: Walking is gentle on the body. Be sure to follow the rules of good foot care. Wear athletic socks and shoes that do not cause blisters.

Tips for Healthy Exercise

  • Proper aerobic exercise routines consists of a 5-minute warm-up. Then a 20-40 minute aerobic exercise period within your target heart rate. Finish with another 5-minute cool-down period.
  • Warm up with easy exercises like walking, stretching, and light calisthenics.
  • Proper stretching will increase your performance and reduce the chance of injury. Proper stretching involves 1) Isolating the specific muscles, 2) Holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds, 3) There should be NO PAIN, just a good stretching sensation, 4) Finally, Do Not Bounce While Stretching!!
  • If you are involved in an aerobic activity, it is very important to take your pulse. Find your pulse at the base of your thumb close to your wrist. Take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6.

How to Determine Your Target Heart Rate

Heart RateExample
220-age = Max Heart Rate220-50 = 170 bpm
MHR x 65% = Lower training zone170 x 65% = 110 bpm
MHR x 85% = Higher training zone170 x 85% = 145 bpm
  • After exercising, you need to cool down your muscles by stretching again. This helps to decrease post-exercise muscle soreness.
  • If you notice your joints or muscles are constantly sore, you need to back down on your exercise intensity and/or frequency. If you notice any swelling, that is another indication to slow down or stop exercising for a few days.
  • To care for your injuries, stop exercising for a few days. Also, applying ice to the injured area will help keep the swelling to a minimum. Do this for 20 minutes every 2 hours. If you are still having problems contact your physician.
  • If your activity is swimming, your target heart rate will be about 10 beats per minute lower due to the body's horizontal position.

Beginning Walking Program

WeekTime Per SessionDaily DistanceAverage Walking Speed
115-30 mins½-1 mile/days walked30-45 spm
220-30 mins½-1½ "30-60 spm
325-35 mins¾-1¾ "35-65 spm
430-40 mins1-1¾ "40-70 spm
530-40 mins1¼-1¾ "40-75 spm
635-45 mins1½-2 "45-90 spm

* SPM-Steps Per Minute

Higher Intensity Walking Program

WeekSessions Per WeekAerobic Time/MinsTotal Walk Time/MinsDistance Miles/Day
Questions About Exercise?
Call the Family Medicine Center at (330) 375-3584 or 1-800-460-2332.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Internet Citation: Safe and Healthy Exercise Fact Sheet: Toolkit for Implementing the Chronic Care Model in an Academic Environment. October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.