I read a book published in the 80s (by Kenneth Cooper, MD), Aerobics, in which Dr. Cooper suggests a way of getting fit without risking one's cardiovascular health. He devised a point system of exercise based on one's fitness level (initially determined by how much distance one can run in 12min, Cooper's 12-min test) and one's choice of exercise (walking, running, swimming, etc.). For those in the first level (not fit), for example, he set a 16-week program to get fit in a "safe" way. His system was based on his studies participated in by the US Armed Forces so it looked like his system had some "clinical" basis.
Would any of you have come across exercise programs based on similar observations with a large group of people? I am particularly interested in running or walking, so perhaps studies related to these would help me improve my aerobic fitness.