Aerobic Exercise: How To Do It Right


Have you been told that you need to do aerobic exercise? What does that mean? How do you know if you are doing enough?

Aerobic exercise involves getting your heart beating faster and getting oxygenated blood flowing around your body. As a result, you breathe faster and your heart rate speeds up. Over time, this strengthens your heart and lungs, decreases your blood pressure, and makes you more alert and focused.

There are many types of aerobic exercise from which to choose, such as walking, jogging, swimming or dancing. Pick exercises that you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to try new ones. Always check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

Experts recommend that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which is 30 minutes five days a week. You could also choose each week to do 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, which could be as little as 15 minutes a day five days a week at a high intensity. Children ages 6 to 17 years old should get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity exercise every day.

How do you know if you are working out moderately or vigorously, or if it is too much or not enough? A heart monitor is a great tool, but the easiest way is to just monitor how you feel. Check in with yourself while you are working out.

With moderate exercise, you should be breathing quickly, but not out of breath; sweating lightly after 10 minutes of exercise; or you’re able to talk, but not sing. If your goal is vigorous or high-intensity exercise, your breathing should be deep and rapid, you are sweaty after just a few minutes, and you cannot say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

Interval training is also an option that is usually safe for most people. Interval training is when your alternate short bursts (15 to 60 seconds) of high-intensity exercise are between longer, less intense exercise during your workout. Studies have shown interval training is very effective at improving cardiovascular fitness and promotes weight loss.

Moderate-intensity exercise is safe for most people including those with heart disease. However, closer supervision and care is required prior to high-intensity and interval training programs.

You may be exercising too hard if you are short of breath, are in pain, or can’t work out as long as you planned to. If this is the case, slow down, back off a little bit to a moderate level. If you are not feeling any exertion, pick up the pace a bit. You will get the most from your workouts when you are exercising at the right pace for you.

If you would like to speak with a cardiologist about how an exercise plan may affect your heart, call the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Heart Associates.

Dr. Vasundhara Muthu is a cardiologist with University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Heart Associates. To reach Dr. Muthu, please call 410-768-0919.


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