Aerobic activity is an important addition to moderate-intensity exercise.
Aerobic exercise is any extended activity that makes you breathe hard
while using the large muscle groups at a regular, even pace. Aerobic
activities help make your heart stronger and more efficient. They also
use more calories than other activities. Some examples of aerobic activities
- Brisk walking
- Aerobic dancing
- Racket sports
- Ice or roller skating
- Cross-country or downhill skiing
- Using aerobic equipment (i.e., treadmill, stationary bike)
To get the most health benefits
from aerobic activity, you should exercise at a level strenuous enough
to raise your heart rate to your target heart-rate zone.
Your target heart rate
zone is 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate (the fastest
your heart can beat). To find your target zone, look for the category
closest to your age in the chart below and read across the line.
If you are 35 years old, your target heart rate zone is 93-138 beats
Figure 1. Exercise heart-rate
(50-75% of average maximum rate)
98-146 beats per
93-138 beats per
88-131 beats per
83-123 beats per
78-116 beats per
Check to see if you're
in your ZONE
To see if you are exercising within your target heart rate zone, count
the number of pulse beats at your wrist or neck for 15 seconds, then
multiply by four to get the beats per minute. Your heart should be beating
within your target heart rate zone. If your heart is beating faster
than your target heart rate, you are exercising too hard and should
slow down. If your heart is beating slower than your target heart rate,
you should exercise a little harder.
When you begin your exercise program, aim for the lower part of your
target zone (50 percent). As you get into better shape, slowly build
up to the higher part of your target zone (75 percent). If exercising
within your target zone seems too hard, exercise at a pace that is comfortable
for you. You will find that, with time, you will feel more comfortable
exercising and can slowly increase to your target zone.
Even low to moderately intensive activity can help
Even low to moderately intensive activity can help lower the risk of
heart disease. Examples of such activity are pleasure walking, stair
climbing, gardening, yard work, moderate-to-heavy housework, dancing,
and home exercise. To get heart benefits from these activities, do one
or more of them every day.