Five Days Five Ways to Exercise Right I Welcome to Cardiorespiratory

Cardiorespiratory fitness

Exercise Right Week is an awareness campaign that is brought to you by Exercise & Sport Science Australia (ESSA) annually. This year it will run from 25th – 31st May with the theme of “Movement is Medicine”. The aim is to highlight how powerful exercise, physical activity and movement are for your health, irrespective of age, weight, background or health status.

Over five days our resident Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) Scott Howard will take you through five ways to Exercise Right!


Let’s kick off with – Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of your heart, lungs and blood vessel health. There are a number of different ways to determine cardiorespiratory fitness, with some tests more suitable than others depending on the individual. A common test for those with high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness is a 1.2km time trial or multistage fitness test like the beep test. The 1.2km trial – whether walked or ran – can determine parameters for conditioning programs. An excellent score for the beep test is considered to be > 13 for men and > 12 for women – which are great benchmarks. Both tests are easily replicated and can measure improvement.

For someone of a lower level of fitness, the 6 Minute Walk Test (6MWT) is a common test utilised by Accredited Exercise Physiologists. A healthy 60-year-old should be able to cover a minimum distance of 550m whereas someone with Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) we hope can cover between 300-400m.

Alternatively, if you have an activity tracker or smart watch, it can measure your maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max). Age and gender matched data should be available to provide insight into your level of cardiorespiratory fitness and help plan fitness programs.

There are a number of risk factors such as being overweight, having high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high blood cholesterol, which can result in a stroke or heart attack. The good news is they are all modifiable and can be addressed with exercise. For example, a single bout of aerobic exercise such as performing the 6MWT has been found to temporarily decrease blood pressure. If your hypertension is uncontrolled you should consult your GP before commencing exercise.

For people with hypertension or high blood cholesterol it is recommended that you accumulate a total of 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week (aiming for the higher end of the range if weight loss is required). Beta blockers are a common medication prescribed to manage hypertension. They cause your heart rate to beat more slowly, so if you are trying to monitor your exercise intensity – do not use any heart rate monitored methods as you will get inaccurate feedback on how hard you are working. A safer alternative is to monitor exercise intensity on a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale, aiming for an intensity of 4/10 or “somewhat hard”. Younger, healthy people can also opt for vigorous exercise, which as a trade off for the increase in intensity, requires a reduced total of 75-150 minutes per week. Vigorous intensity is considered to be 70 to <90% of your Heart Rate maximum (HRmax) or 5-6/10 on the RPE scale.

Dr Ash Bowden, an Emergency Department physician and founder of Doctor Do-More, asks the question “How many minutes do you do?” He states the answer isn’t anything to be afraid of, because with that number in mind, there are so many ways to do more. Movement is Medicine, and the remarkable thing about it is that it’s most beneficial when you’re at the lower end of the activity scale.


If you are interested in assessing your cardiorespiratory fitness or would like to know more on how to improve it please contact Scott on (02) 4314 5183 or online via to book an appointment with our Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Keep an eye out tomorrow for the second installment in our Five Days Five Ways to Exercise Right blog series.