Aerobic activity or endurance activity is any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for a while.
This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your heart and muscles, which allows them to work longer.
How often and how long?
Experts say to do either of these to get and stay healthy:1
You can choose to do one or both types of activity. And it's fine to be active in several blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. Do what works best for you. For example, you could do moderate activity for 45 minutes every other day. Or you could do 10 minutes 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
You could do vigorous activity 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Or you can try to do it once a week for 1¼ hours, or for 25 minutes a day, 3 days a week.
Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Start by doing a short warm-up, such as walking or riding a stationary bike. And stretch briefly.
Experts recommend that teens and children (starting at age 6) do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.1 And 3 or more days a week, what they choose to do should:
It's okay for them to be active in smaller blocks of time that add up to 1 hour or more each day.
How hard should you work?
To get the health benefits, you need to do your activity at a moderate pace, at least. Here's an easy way to know if you're working hard enough:
One way to know how hard you should exercise is to find your target heart rate. Being active within the range of your target heart rate not only helps you keep your heart and lungs healthy but also helps you get or stay fit. As a guideline, use the Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate?
The more aerobic activity you do, the healthier your heart will be. It won't beat as fast as it did before, even when you give the same amount of effort. This is a sign that you are becoming more fit.
The more aerobic activity you do, the more you'll be able to do without getting out of breath or feeling like your heart is pounding. You will be able to do activities such as playing with children, doing housework or yard work, or hiking without getting tired as quickly.
Walking for health
One of the best and easiest aerobic activities is brisk walking. You don't need special equipment, and you can do it almost anywhere.
A pedometer, which you can buy at a sporting goods store, can help you keep track of your activity. A pedometer will count the number of steps you take each day and help you set goals to walk more. Some people prefer letting the pedometer count the steps they walk, rather than trying to keep track of how many minutes they walk.
A good goal is to walk a total of 10,000 steps a day. Try wearing your pedometer every day for 1 week to see your usual number of steps. Then increase the number by up to 2,000 steps a day until 10,000 steps is comfortable for you. You can increase your walking in simple ways. These suggestions can get you started, and you can probably think of more ways to add more steps to your everyday activities.
To keep walking interesting, find a new area to walk in. Allow yourself some extra time in case this walk takes longer than your usual route. Because new areas may pose some safety concerns, try a new area only during daylight, and choose well-populated areas, such as:
Walk at various times of day. Use "transition times" (times between activities when you don't have to be anywhere) to get out and walk, such as:
Other aerobic activities
Other aerobic activities include:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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