Aerobic Exercise
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Aerobic Exercise

Every exercise program should include some aerobic activities. The health benefits are many, and it is fairly easy to fit into your daily routine. If you're interested in increasing your aerobic activity, this information will get you started.

Here's Why Aerobic Exercise Is Good:

In aerobic exercise, you continually move large muscle groups, such as legs, arms, and buttocks. This action causes you to breathe more deeply and your heart to work harder to pump blood, thereby strengthening your heart and lungs.

Here's How Aerobic Exercise Works:

Aerobic exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Aerobic dance
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Playing sports that involve running, such as basketball and soccer

Getting Started:

Before starting an exercise program, check with your doctor about any possible medical problems. If you're new to exercise, consider making an appointment with a certified athletic trainer to help you develop a safe, effective, and enjoyable exercise program. You can find a trainer at a local gym or through a referral from your doctor or a friend.


In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published new recommendations for nutrition and exercise. To reduce your risk of chronic disease, the minimum recommendation is 30 minutes/day of moderate intensity exercise, performed most days of the week. The guidelines recommend that most people are likely to benefit from even more intense activity, done for longer sessions. For weight control, you should do 60 or more minutes/day of moderate-vigorous exercise, most days of the week.


Tips for getting started:

  • Warm up for five minutes before activity. This can consist of stretches and a light walk.
  • Start the activity slowly for the first five minutes.
  • Increase your workout gradually from 5-30 minutes.
  • Slowly increase your intensity so that your heart rate increases to 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate equals 220 minus your age. To calculate your heart rate:
    • Place your index and middle finger over your pulse on your wrist or the side of your neck.
    • Count your pulse for 15 seconds.
    • Multiply this number by four.
  • Gradually increase your workout to try to maintain this level of intensity for the entire 30-minute workout most days of the week.


American College of Sports Medicine

American Council on Exercise


Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute

Healthy Living Unit


The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine website. Available at: .

Physical activity. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Published 2006. Accessed September 3, 2008.

US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Available at: Accessed September 3, 2008.

Last reviewed May 2008 by John C. Keel, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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