Aerobic fitness means increasing how well the body uses oxygen,
which depends on the condition of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Experts tend
to describe aerobic activity in three ways: light, moderate, and vigorous.
When people do vigorous-intensity activities, they breathe faster
and have a much faster heartbeat than at rest. To get the benefits of vigorous
activity, a person can:
Jog or run.
Cycle fast (at least 12
miles per hour [mph]).
Swim moderately to
Play a game of basketball or volleyball.
heavy loads, such as bricks.
The goal of aerobic fitness is to increase the amount of
oxygen that goes to the heart and muscles, which allows them to work longer.
Any activities, including many kinds of daily activities, that raise the heart
rate and keep it up for an extended period of time can improve aerobic fitness.
If the activities are done regularly and long enough, they can help improve
Experts recommend that adults try to do vigorous activity
for at least 1¼ hours a week. Or they can do moderate activity for at least 2½
hours a week. People can choose to do one or both types of activity. And it's
fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout the day and week.
Children as young as preschool age benefit from being active. It's best for teens and children (starting at age 6) to do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.
It's always a good idea to talk to
your doctor before starting an exercise program.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.