Aerobic exercise literally means "exercising with oxygen." It helps the body use oxygen more efficiently by conditioning the lungs and heart. It gets your blood pumping and raises your heart rate. And like any physical activity, aerobic exercise helps burn calories. Once you do aerobic exercise regularly, you'll begin to see how less winded you are while climbing stairs or walking up hills. You'll even be able to bike farther and swim longer, too.
Remember that everyday activities count towards your aerobic exercise. So ride your bike to the grocery store and walk briskly to work or class. The key is to get your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Week 1: If you're new to aerobic exercise, build your foundation. Don't try to run 5 miles your first go. If you're healthy and want to begin aerobic training, start your first week with 3 sessions of 15 to 20 minutes with a target heart rate of 50%.
Weeks 2 and 3: Add a fourth session and increase the length of each session to 20 to 25 minutes.
Week 4: Increase your target heart rate to 60% and boost each session to 30 minutes. At the end of this week, you'll have built a good foundation to begin a more strenuous program. Bet you're starting to feel great!
And beyond: In this stage, your goal should be maintaining continuous exercise for at least 30 minutes. If it's been a long time since you have done anything, it may take a little longer to get here. Once you can exercise for 35 to 40 minutes at an intensity of 70%, you will be well on your way to developing a regular exercise habit.
NOW YOU KNOW Aerobic exercise, when combined with flexibility and strength training, rounds out a balanced exercise regimen. You can do aerobic exercise just about anywhere. Just remember to do it!