General Aerobic Training Tips

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aerobic training tips

Aerobic training is likely the method that is most familiar to the average person in terms of trying to improve general levels of fitness through physical activity. Much of what we consider exercise falls under the category of aerobic training.

By definition, aerobic training involves improving cardiovascular endurance through elevating the heart rate for an extended period of time. More specifically, in order to achieve an aerobic effect you must elevate your heart rate to your target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.

Yet, there is a great deal of variation in the ways that people go about implementing aerobic training into their lives. With such great variation, it seems necessary to also be aware of general tips and rules to which you should adhere.

Consult Your Physician: It is of utmost importance to consult your physician before beginning or applying major changes to an aerobic training program. This is even more important if you have a heart condition or serious illness. You may want to draft your exercise plan on some paper so that your doctor can review it with you and make changes where necessary. By doing this, you can ensure that your plan is healthy and will not put you at risk for a serious condition or injury.

Start Slowly: Even though you may be more than ready to meet your goals, it is important that you take your time and begin very slowly. You should use the first portion of your aerobic training plan to become used to your chosen equipment or methods. By rushing through the first portion of your program, you may become frustrated as you progress into later stages.

Increase Training in Stages: Your training should look like an easy plateau on paper. You should first aim to accomplish a goal, and then apply all of your efforts to accomplish another goal. By doing this, you apply levels of difficulty or progression into your program. These levels not only keep you focused, but they afford a great deal more flexibility in accurately measuring results and keeping motivation soaring.

Create a Schedule: You should be well aware of when your next five training sessions will be before you begin your first one. This is another tip geared towards motivation and properly tracking progress. When you make and keep and schedule, it is easy to catch training mistakes and feel a sense of accomplishment when you set a schedule and adhere to it. Almost every professional athlete or physical trainer keeps a detailed and regular schedule.

Allow Time for Stretching: You absolutely have to stretch before each workout. As a general rule, this stretching time should amount to 10 to 15 minutes. Do not wait too long to move on to your regular routine after stretching. The whole point of stretching is to warm and prepare muscles and joints for physical activity. By stretching, you can prevent many injuries that stem from overuse or strain.

Be Patient for Results: Remain patient as you progress through your program. Different bodies require different amounts of time to develop. While one person’s body may develop rapidly, it may take you a great deal more time to obtain the same results. Your program is designed for you. As long as you follow the basic rules of nutrition and exercise, you can be assured that your program will work eventually.

Listen to Your Body: Your body is constantly sending you messages informing you of what actions you should take. These include “I’m hungry”, “That hurts”, “I’m tired”, etc. This is no different during exercise. By learning to listen to the signals that your body sends you when participating in aerobic training, you can get the most out of your workout plan and prevent many overuse injuries.

Challenge Yourself: You should constantly push yourself to see how far you can take your body but without overdoing it. Your goals should be reasonable enough to meet in your chosen time frame but difficult enough where it may be a stretch. For example, if you set a goal for 5 training sessions and you meet it in 2, you may need to adjust your next goal to be a little more difficult. This can be tricky at first but as your progress through your program, it will become easier.

Consider a Training Partner: One of the prime enemies of aerobic training (indeed, all exercise programs) is the loss of motivation. This can often be curbed by employing a training partner. It might be that you and a friend share similar fitness goals (lose weight, play better at next week’s softball game) or you may just want to connect with a friend or lover on another level. By training with someone else, you are accountable to them. You may carpool to the gym or set a similar schedule. When you train with someone else, there is someone to pick you up when you fail and keep you going when you succeed.

aerobic training tips

Avoid Over Training: It is often tempting to train continuously to meet an unreasonable goal. The simple fact is that your body can only take so much exercise in a given period. When you over train, you set yourself up for failure.

This could result from an injury or a loss of interest. Even if you decide to scale back training after a period of over training, the feeling of not doing enough is difficult to shed. To avoid this exercise plan killer, keep your exercises reasonable and take plenty of rest between each training session.

Avoid Starving Yourself: Another common mistake of aerobic trainers is starving themselves to see faster results. Indeed, you can get some lightning fast weight loss results when you do not eat. However, you can also get malnutrition, gout, scurvy and other serious illnesses by not eating enough food.

You cannot starve yourself forever and as soon as you resume a normal diet, you will regain the weight. Avoid this harmful practice by eating reasonable amounts of food and making healthy dietary choices.


10 things no one tells you before you become a personal trainer

1. You’ll get less healthy

The majority of people who want to become personal trainers are either fitness enthusiasts or former teenage sports players who now want to make a career helping others get in shape.

They begin their working life as an instructor in a gym, which means they do eight-hour shifts and use the facilities to their heart’s content (literally and figuratively).

It’s a honeymoon period that almost ends in divorce once they graduate on to be personal trainers. PTs are generally self-employed and at the behest of their many clients, which means we’re incredibly busy in the mornings and reluctant to ever turn a job down.

Then, in the afternoons, there will be more sessions, programs to write, meals plans to send and websites to update. For me, it all adds up to a 15-hour work day.

The result? Rushing around, sleeping less, training less, and eating poorly. Suddenly, you’re a personal trainer who needs a personal trainer.

It took me over a year to work out how I could maintain my own health while working to improve others’. It helps that you build a client base over time, so your income becomes more predictable, but I also had to make tough calls like not going out in the evening and hitting the hay early so I could be up at the crack of dawn to start work.

Goodbye social life, it was nice knowing you

2. You’ll drink WAY too much coffee

However early I wake up (4:45am most days), it’s still not early enough. My solution? I used to drink coffee like it’s Powerade. Here’s how my daily intake measured up:

  • 4:45: Wake up. Filter coffee in the car
  • 6am: First session. Black coffee as the coffee shops open 
  • 8am: Two sessions in. Time for an espresso.
  • 11am: Mid morning Americano 
  • 1pm: Cappuccino with lunch 
  • 3pm : Afternoon espresso 
  • 7pm: Last coffee of the day to make it through the evening sessions

Too much, isn’t it? You’d be surprised how common this intake is among PTs. (Lack of sleep and coffee addiction is one of the reasons I moved much of my business online recently and went caffeine free – I was on a way one ticket to adrenal fatigue.)

3. You’ll only be successful once you focus on the client, not the money

When you first become a PT, it can be easy to chase the kind of money that can be made by stacking sessions back to back all day. As a result, the temptation is to become a salesman, stalking your prey on the gym floor with military precision and persuading them into buying ever increasing amounts of your time.

The problem with this is that fitness is a people business – we get paid for delivering health – and your client will soon lose trust in you if you don’t deliver. Integrity is key here.

If you know someone can afford to buy sessions every day but their body can only take two a week, don’t for the love of God oversell your product. You’ll make more money from them in the long run – and have a better relationship, which means better marketing when they speak to their friends – if you’re honest and tell them what’s going to get results.

As housing estate agents almost never say: it’s all about reputation, reputation, reputation.

4. Social situations will never be the same again

You know how you always end up asking your friend who’s a doctor about small things that are bothering you, even when you’re down the pub and you know they’ve had a long day of work and the last thing they want to talk about is your persistent cough/ingrowing toenail/bowel movements? Well, it works the same with personal trainers.

The moment you become a PT, you’ll be asked for fitness advice as small talk everywhere you turn.

Get ready to answer questions like “should I be doing weights or cardio?”, to which there are 100 viable answers, knowing that the person asking probably won’t heed your advice.

5. Your presence makes others feel guilty

“Oh, Scott, look, I’m eating an iced bun. I bet you wouldn’t do that. I’m such a fatlad”.

If they don’t say it, you can bet they’re thinking it. It’s one of the stranger effects of being a PT. Even though you would never dream of commenting on what someone else is eating (unless they’re paying you good money to do so), everyone suddenly becomes conscious of their diet when you’re around.

Annoying – for all involved.

6. You’ll date other trainers … and clients

While you build your business, you’ll be in the gym within an hour of waking up every day, and still be there an hour before you go to bed. It’s no surprise, then, that romance often flourishes among the barbells.

Many trainers end up dating one another and I’ve seen multiple relationships form from what was initially a trainer/client setup. Protocol says you shouldn’t become involved, but if there’s spark, there’s spark.

7. You’ll do a lot of laundry

Ten training sessions every day + plus your own training = a lot of sweaty gym clothes sitting in dank gym bags.

My washing machine probably sees more action than any other domestic appliance in my house.

8. You’ll develop a superhuman perception of time

Sessions often involve you counting a lot of timed reps and circuits. After a while, you don’t bother looking at the stopwatch: counting time in your head becomes second nature. You’ll be surprised how accurate you can get.

As a busy trainer you’ll also have your schedule so tightly packed that you’ll instinctively calculate how long it takes to go get a coffee, how many minutes per day you’ll have to eat, and whether you’ve got enough time to sneak in a toilet stop before your client has finished changing. I’m not kidding!

9. You’ll never look at holidays the same way again

Remember that thing about being self employed? Well, it means that when you go on holiday, the money tap gets turned off.

Consequently, before you go away, you work doubly hard (which makes you doubly tired). Then, when you get back, you work doubly hard again to get everyone motivated and training.

That being said, it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking holidays are more trouble than they are worth. I did this for a couple of years and it can lead to burn out.

10. You’ll develop a unique friendship with your clients

As the weeks roll on, you get to know more about your client than their squat thrust record or their 500m row PB.

Between the burpees and bench presses, many clients open up in ways they seldom do to anyone else – probably because we are unrelated to anyone else in their lives, so there can be no comeback from what they say.

There is a lot more to being a personal trainer than giving out fitness advice. The time will come when you’ll be called upon to deliver sage council, inspire courage or simply be a shoulder to cry.

5 Components of Physical Fitness


But if you want to achieve and maintain optimal physical fitness, your fitness program must include all 5 of these components of physical fitness:

1. Muscular fitness


Muscular fitness includes muscular strength and muscular endurance. Muscular strength is the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can exert while performing an exercise. Strength is important for everyday activities such as lifting and carrying objects. The best way to increase strength is to train with heavy weights, working in the 4-8 or 8-12 rep range.

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle group to exert force against resistance over a sustained period of time. Repeated actions, such as climbing stairs or shoveling snow, require more endurance than do actions that are performed just once. To increase muscular endurance, train with lighter weights, working in a higher rep range, 15-20 reps, or for longer time intervals (for example, as many reps as possibly for 30 second intervals).

2. Aerobic fitness (cardiovascular endurance)


Cardiovascular endurance is the capacity of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs to deliver oxygen and nutrients to working muscles during exercise. The higher a person’ cardiovascular endurance, the more work he or she can perform without fatiguing. Sustained aerobic exercise, such as swimming, cycling, and hiking, all help to improve aerobic fitness.

3. Flexibility


Flexibility is the ability to move joints through their normal full range of motion, which is important for preventing injuries and maintaining correct posture while performing exercises or everyday tasks. Yoga classes, mobility warm-ups, and static stretching at the end of every workout all help to increase flexibility.

4. Body composition


Body composition refers to the body’s proportion of lean body mass (muscles, bones, organs, and skin) in relation to body fat. Body fat is considered either essential fat or extra, stored fat. Essential fat is considered 2-5% for men and 10-13% for women. To qualify as having a ‘fit’ level of body fat, men must have a body fat composition below 17% and women must have a body fat composition below 24%.

5. Mind/body vitality


Mind/body vitality is defined as an individual’s ability to alleviate unnecessary stress and tension from the body by integrating physical exercise and mental focus. Exercise forms such as yoga, tai chi, or martial arts, all include a mental component as well as a physical one. Purely mental training forms, such as meditation, can also help increase one’s mind/body vitality.

So what would a balanced physical fitness program look like?

If you are a cardio junkie who loves to run or bike, balance to you might look like 3-4 days of cardio exercise, with one or two days of strength training and one or two days of yoga per week.

If you’re more of a gym rat who loves lifting weights, you might have more days of weight lifting and one or two aerobic endurance days thrown in instead. Just make sure you mix up your workouts–and, of course, get proper nutrition and sleep, too!

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Cooking for One: 29 Insanely Easy, Healthy Meals You Can Make in Minutes

 Exercising for fitness is important but eating right is vital. I am posting this article here as a ready reckoner for those who want to eat healthy and complement their effort in the fitness class. Finding local equivalents of the ingredients shouldn’t be rocket science. And girls, count the nutrients and not the calories!
In the kitchen, one can be the loneliest number. The fear of leftover fatigue or doing the math to modify recipes for a single serving (whydo so many recipes make so much at once?) can drive anyone to order out or eat a sad bowl of cereal rather than cooking. After all, spending time making a dish that requires pans and utensils isn’t worth it when you’re dining alone, right?

We call BS. Not only can cooking healthy recipes for yourself provide some much-needed alone time, but a healthy, home-cooked dinner(or breakfast, or lunch) can help you feel accomplished and energized for whatever life throws your way. The best part is thatcooking for one is a lot quicker than cooking for a crowd.

We’ve gathered some of the healthiest, tastiest meals for one (or for one meal and just enough left over for lunch the next day) from around the web to inspire you to get in the kitchen (Yes, even if you don’t think you can cook). Treat yo’ self with these easy, yummy meals—you’ll be happy you don’t have to share.


Who said burrito bowls are just for dinner? The bed of greens works as a base for sweet potato, sauerkraut, eggs, and avocado—and a generous helping of taco meat. Though it’s touted as a morning meal, this hearty bowl will keep you full anytime of the day.

2. Mushroom and Herb Omelet

Who says omelets need to be complicated? This fancy-looking recipe just takes eggs, mushrooms, sour cream, and some of your favorite herbs. Herbs are easy to add, but make all the difference in taste.

Pizza for breakfast? Dreams do come true! But this isn’t a traditionalpizza. Caluliflower acts as the crust (but you can sub in a tortilla or pizza dough if you want!) while mashed avocado serves as the “sauce” (and a dose of healthy fats). The pizza’s also full of protein and omega-3s, thanks to the egg topping. Add prosciutto or bacon if you want a meatier, even more filling meal.

Peaches are an underrated fruit when it comes to smoothies—berries seem to get all the love. But that’s about to change with this recipe. A frozen peach (use fresh if you’ve got ‘em!) gets blended with heart-healthy walnuts, oats, and banana for a frozen breakfast with a ton of staying power.

These mini frittatas make for a healthy breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). Using zucchinis and peppers makes the dish feel fancy, but it’s ready in about 15 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper to elevate the flavor for a weekend brunch (or a busy weeknight!).

Skip the Egg McMuffin and eat this breakfast sandwich instead. Low sodium bacon and fresh greens make this one a healthy treat. You can always sub the bagel for an English Muffin or piece of toast. Add some tomato and good-for-you guacamole to make this even more egg-cellent.


This simple, effortless recipe relies on fried eggs—every budget lover’s dream—while roasted red pepper and swiss cheese give it a gourmet twist. Experiment with your favorite add-ins—lettuce and tomatoes would complement this well.

The original cobb salad gets a healthier makeover with this barbecue chicken version that’s loaded with black beans, corn, and a whole bunch of tasty veggies. Add your favorite dressing (just go easy if you’re counting calories) to customize your creation.

Makes lunch for today and (maybe) tomorrow.

This is the perfect salad for when you’re in the mood for something light and sweet, but still filling. Antioxidant-rich strawberries, gorgonzola, and healthy-fat-filled avocado are tossed with superfood spinach and a super-simple homemade dressing starring poppyseeds gets drizzled on. Deliciousness ensues.

Makes lunch for today and tomorrow.

If you couldn’t get enough of the strawberry avocado combo above, then this recipe is for you. Goat cheese adds an unexpected flavor toast to this yummy panini. If you’re feeling something, meatier, though, grilled chicken would pair well.

These peppers feature a healthy spinach and quinoa combo, but they’re also chock-full of southwest-style ingredients: corn, salsa, black beans, and cilantro all make appearances. Though overall cooking time is a bit longer than the other recipes, the active prep time is minimal—and the end result is worth it.

Is it us, or do stuffed foods just taste better? Take this stuffedavocado, for instance, which is packed with garlicky shrimp. This recipe takes just a few simple ingredients—avocado, garlic, shrimp,heart-healthy olive oil, and seasonings—and turns them into a filling meal. Add a hardboiled egg as extra filling if you’d like.

Hummus isn’t just for dipping. Here, it acts as a spread for a sweet and savory grilled sandwich. Try adding in lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and your other favorite veggies for a produce-packed midday meal.


You’ll never eye the blue box again. This creamy mac and cheese gets made entirely in the microwave for those nights when you need comfort food, stat. If you have macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk at home, you’re ready to make this. Whole wheat macaroni adds a healthier twist; toss in less cheese (or opt for vegan options) if you’re watching your dairy intake.

If eating at Chipotle is burning a hole in your wallet, it’s time to try your hand at making burrito bowls at home. By combining precooked chicken with a handful of fresh, unprocessed ingredients, a healthy, delicious Mexican-inspired meal is just 10 minutes away—and a whole lot cheaper.

This dish is essentially a heaping bowl of the wonderful staples in Mediterranean cooking, including sundried tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts. All those flavors are tossed in olive oil, white wine, and garlic, then combined with your favorite (whole-wheat) pasta for a dinner that’s as easy as it is delicious. The leftovers are just as good, too!

Makes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow.

If you’re never eaten plantains before, this recipe is the perfect introduction. This banana-looking fruit gets sliced, fried (use just enough oil to submerge half of each slice), and sprinkled with sea salt. Serve with rice and black beans for a meat-free meal that’ll leave you wanting more. If frying isn’t your thing, these are just as tasty baked at 400F in the oven for about 20 minutes, with a flip halfway through.

Makes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow.

This supremely easy recipe turns a bowl of superfood quinoa into a full-fledged meal. While the quinoa cooks, red peppers and butternut squash get roasted and tossed with figs and seasonings. The result is a surprisingly tasty, healthy, and filing dish.

Spaghetti mixed with shrimp, superfood garlic, and just a touch of butter—this recipe is already winning. But then you add in a splash of cream, white wine (optional), and red pepper flakes for some heat, and this shrimp is out of this world! While the recipe calls for fresh shrimp, make it easier (and quicker) on yourself by using tail-off frozen shrimp. Up the health factor by choosing whole-wheat spaghetti.

Blame (or should we say thank?) the bacon for making this creamy pasta so darn good. This recipe is a lighter version of the traditional Italin dish (featuring peas and turkey bacon), but if you want to sub in regular bacon, you do you! If a fear of eating raw eggs has turned you off to carbonara in the past, don’t fret—the egg cooks right when it hits the pan.


With a name like that, you can’t go wrong. This low-calorie treat made with spelt flour, applesauce, and vanilla extract gets cooked in the microwave and topped with a mouthwatering streusel. The result is a low-calorie cake that will satisfy your sweet tooth when a late-night snack craving strikes.

How can you not love a dessert recipe that calls for just four tablespoons of flour? This dessert uses vitamin-packed pumpkin for a good-for-you cookie. Bonus: Try one of these weird but awesomepumpkin recipes to use up the rest of the canned pumpkin.

This traditional recipe can be made single-serve by scooping a heap of apple crisp into a wine glass. Tasty, small, and totally Instagram worthy!

We’ve all been faced with this problem: you want to bake yourself cookies, but just a few. Do you go to the effort, have one or two, and then give away the fruits of your hard labor, or do you try resisting an entire pan of homemade chocolate-y goodness? Finally, a solution! Baking one deep-dish cookie eliminates all those tempting leftovers—and it’s made in a ramekin which, let’s face it, is adorable.

Are these a dessert or a breakfast? All we know is they’re delicious. A pancake batter made of oats, Greek yogurt, and egg whites gets whipped together in a blender and then cooked in minutes. Stuffed with yogurt and jam, these make an awesome French-inspired dessert.

So Easy They Don’t Need a Real Recipe

Need some more inspiration? Try some of the “recipe-free” meals that Greatist team members enjoy whipping up when they’re all alone and hunger strikes.

26. Healthier Taco Salad

Taco Salad

Photo: Life in the Lofthouse

Chop and sauté half an onion and half a bell pepper. When they start to brown, add in ground turkey, beef, tofu, or veggie crumbles till cooked, sprinkling in taco seasoning. Combine meat, onions, and peppers with your favorite greens (spinach works nicely). Add in sliced avocado, black beans, corn, and (if you’re in the mood for some crunch) broken tortilla chips. Drizzle ranch dressing on top.

27. Tomato, Basil, Mozz Sandwiches

caprese sandwich

Photo: Bowl of Delicious

Drizzle olive oil on two slices of ciabatta bread or any crusty type of bread. Top with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil; add in your favorite Italian meat, like prosciutto or salami, and sprinkle black pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper on top. Put the two halves together and cook in a pan over medium heat, flattening with a spatula, until cheese is totally melted.

28. Asian Shrimp Stirfy

Asian Shrimp Stirfy

Photo: Steamy Kitchen

Sauté leftover vegetables like chopped mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, and celery in sesame oil. When they’ve softened, add in shrimp and stir fry sauce. Cook until shrimp are pink (about 3-4 minutes). Add in a beaten egg for the last minute; stir to scramble. Serve over rice.

29. Balsamic Pasta

Balsamic Pasta

Photo: Before Its News


Saute shrimp in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Add cooked angel hair pasta and toss with more balsamic, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Add thinly sliced mozzarella cheese and inhale.


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Aerobic exercise: what you need to know

What is aerobic exercise?

‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It involves repeated rhythmic movements of the large muscles of your body, such as those in your arms or legs.

Examples of aerobic exercise include

  • brisk walking;
  • jogging;
  • swimming;
  • cycling;
  • dancing;
  • cross-country skiing;
  • ice-skating;
  • kayaking;
  • roller-blading; and
  • aerobic dance (often simply called aerobics).

Because you need more oxygen to do aerobic exercise, you breathe more rapidly and deeply to get extra oxygen into your lungs. Your heart also beats faster to deliver more oxygen-carrying blood from your lungs to your muscles.

How fast your heart beats and how rapidly you breathe will depend on how intense (hard) the exercise is, with gentle exercise causing only slight increases in breathing and heart rate, but more vigorous exercise resulting in greater increases.

Aerobic versus anaerobic exercise
The term ‘aerobic exercise’ comes from the fact that the energy used during this form of exercise is linked to the consumption of oxygen (aerobic metabolism). Aerobic exercise is of a light to moderate intensity, and is characterised by our ability to maintain it for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours).

Very strenuous exercise, such as running fast or rapidly cycling uphill uses energy at a very fast rate, and will exceed our muscles’ capacity to work aerobically. Exercise at these higher intensities does involve the use of oxygen, but also requires your muscles to undertake some additional metabolism without oxygen (anaerobic metabolism). This anaerobic metabolism results in the production of fatiguing factors that cause you to have to slow down and eventually stop. The length of time before this occurs will depend on how much anaerobic metabolism is involved, with higher exercise intensities that require greater anaerobic metabolism causing fatigue to occur more quickly.

How often should I do aerobic exercise?

For general health and fitness benefits, such as reducing your risk of heart disease and improving your stamina, it is recommended that you do some form of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on most, and preferably all, days of the week, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. This 30-minute total can be made up of shorter 10-minute sessions, if this is better suited to your day. These short sessions will still provide health benefits and produce some fitness improvements, although to substantially increase your fitness you probably need to include at least some 30-minute sessions in your week.

To maintain your level of aerobic fitness, and the health advantages that go with it, you need to keep up a regular aerobic exercise routine. Giving up your routine or doing less exercise will cause your fitness and associated health benefits to decline.

It’s also important to avoid prolonged sedentary behaviour, such as sitting continuously for several hours. So, in addition to trying to incorporate exercise into your day, you should also try to break up your sedentary behaviours, for example by getting up and walking around your office for a few minutes every hour, or during the advertisement breaks when watching TV.

How hard should I do aerobic exercise?

To improve your general health and fitness, moderate intensity aerobic exercise is recommended. However, if you are very unfit and currently do no exercise, even short bouts of light exercise will be of benefit. With continued participation, this light exercise will produce fitness improvements that will enable you to progress to moderate intensity exercise.

As a general guide, ‘moderate intensity’ aerobic exercise may make you slightly breathless, but still able to hold a conversation, and you should be able to sustain this level of exercise for at least 30 minutes. An example would be when going on a brisk walk, jog or bike ride with a friend.

If you want to be more exact in determining your exercise intensity, then you can use your heart rate as a guide. Moderate intensity exercise is likely to increase your heart rate to between 55 and 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate. More vigorous exercise will increase your heart rate even further.

How to estimate your maximum heart rate

How to estimate your maximum heart rate
Your maximum heart rate in beats per minute = approx 220 minus your age

But this is a rough estimate, and there is a lot of individual variation. (Your maximum heart rate tends to decline by about 1 beat per year with increasing age.)

You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age in years from 220. For someone who is 40, for example, their maximum heart rate would be estimated to be around 220 minus 40, which is 180 beats per minute. So, during moderate intensity exercise, this person could expect to have a heart rate between 99 and 126 beats per minute (55 to 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate). However, this is just a rough estimate, and some people can have maximum heart rates more than 20 beats above or below that estimated for their age. So it’s a good idea to also use your perception of how hard the exercise is — the guide of being slightly breathless but able to hold a conversation is a good one.

Beta-blockers and exercise

Beta-blockers are one type of medicine used to lower blood pressure as well as treat angina and certain heart rhythm disorders. They work by slowing down the rate at which the heart beats. People taking beta blockers should talk to their doctor about their planned exercise programme. Moderate intensity exercise is often recommended for people taking beta-blockers, but since the heart rate calculations described above do not apply to them, the best guide to determining a suitable exercise intensity is their perceived exertion.

Measuring your heart rate

If you do not possess a heart rate monitor, an easy way to measure your heart rate is to count your pulse for 10 seconds then multiply this count by 6 to calculate your heart rate per minute. To find your pulse, locate either your carotid artery (found on the side of your neck, just under your jaw bone) or your radial artery (in your wrist at the base of your thumb). Then gently place your index and middle fingers over the artery, but don’t press too hard or you will stop the flow of blood in that artery and not be able to detect a pulse.

Be aware that aiming for a target heart rate when exercising is a rough guide and may not work for some people. Older people who are physically fit may have a higher maximum heart rate than a younger, less fit person, and a higher maximum heart rate than that given by subtracting their age from 220.

Progressing to greater levels of fitness

If you are already active and getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week but want to attain a higher level of health and fitness, you will need to increase your aerobic exercise levels, either by exercising at a higher intensity and/or by doing more exercise.

Vigorous aerobic exercise — exercising at 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate — will result in further fitness and health gains. As a guide, at this intensity you will be breathing hard and finding it difficult to talk in full sentences between breaths. This level of exercise is more strenuous and should only be contemplated if you are already accustomed to regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise. To prevent ‘overdoing it’, it is a good idea to alternate between moderate and vigorous exercise days with, for example, 30 or more minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise on 3 or 4 days a week, interspersed with days of 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise.

For people undertaking high-level sports training, a qualified trainer is likely to develop an individualised programme that varies from the above guidelines with regard to the intensity (how hard), the duration (how long) and the frequency (how often) of the aerobic exercise sessions. This is because the main aim of their training is to improve their sporting performance – the associated health benefits that accompany this are a fortunate side benefit, rather than the main goal.

A balanced fitness programme

For people of all fitness levels, aerobic exercise should form part of a balanced exercise programme that also includes 2 to 3 sessions per week of exercise to increase muscle strength, e.g. resistance training; and some stretching and flexibility work, e.g. a basic stretching routine or attending a yoga class. Needless to say, healthy eating and plenty of rest will complete a well-rounded fitness programme.

Aerobic exercise precautions

Appropriate aerobic exercise is recommended for almost everybody, regardless of age, but may need to be modified to ensure its suitability for people with existing health problems.

If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity. The level and type of exercise may be adjusted to ensure that it can be undertaken safely and effectively.

As with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury and abandonment of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions. When you do increase your level of aerobic exercise, increase only one component — the intensity, duration, or frequency of your aerobic exercise sessions — at a time.

It’s never too late to start

An important health and fitness message is that people of all ages can benefit from regular aerobic exercise. And, if you are unfit, unhealthy or an older adult, you may have the most to gain from including it in your lifestyle.

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Why Aerobicise?

‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It is of a light to moderate intensity, and can be undertaken for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours) without excessive fatigue. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, swimming or cycling at a steady pace. Another example would be dancing or ‘aerobics’ classes.

Regular exercise causes your body to make adjustments that result in improved health and physical functioning. Continuing with regular exercise enables your body to maintain these benefits. Regularly doing the right types of exercise at the correct intensity, and for an appropriate duration, results in the most benefit.

The benefits of aerobic exercise can be broadly categorised as either ‘fitness’ (physical capacity) or ‘health’. Fitness and health are linked, and most forms of aerobic exercise will help you achieve both.

Fitness — including increased cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance (stamina)

Regular aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your capacity to use oxygen. It does this by increasing your heart’s capacity to send blood (and hence oxygen) to the muscles. This is mainly achieved through an increase in the size of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles), which means that your heart doesn’t have to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is evident in a slower resting heart rate, and a slower heart rate for the same exercise intensity.

As you get ‘fitter’, particular activities (such as walking or jogging at a specified speed) will become easier.

You’ll also be able to undertake the activity for longer (known as endurance), and/or at a higher intensity (e.g. jogging at a faster speed). The same applies to activities such as cycling or swimming, but it should be noted that fitness tends to be specific. So jogging will provide only limited benefits to your swimming fitness and vice versa. However, a side-benefit you may notice is that you also have increased stamina for the everyday activities of life, not just for exercise.

Other fitness improvements occur in the exercising muscles, and are specific to those muscles being used in the mode of exercise (e.g. walking, running, cycling, or swimming). These include an increased capacity for the muscles to take up and use the additional oxygen being delivered by the heart.

Reduced risk of certain health problems

Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It can lower blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol by reducing the levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increasing the amount of HDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol). It can also reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as instilling a general sense of well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has even been shown to have the potential to increase your lifespan.

Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming is valuable for improving general health and fitness in people who have arthritis or other conditions that limit their ability to do weight-bearing exercise.

Importantly, whereas fitness tends to be quite specific, many health benefits can be gained from any form of aerobic exercise. Additionally, the health gains can be achieved from relatively moderate amounts of exercise — moving from a lifestyle involving no exercise to one that involves some exercise can lead to substantial improvements in health.

Weight control

Aerobic exercise burns up energy (calories). Regular sessions of 30 to 60 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise (at around 55 to 70 per cent of maximum heart rate) can be an important part of a weight loss or weight management programme that is also mindful of the energy (calories) consumed as food.

However, many of the health benefits associated with aerobic exercise occur independently of weight loss. Evidence from large studies has shown that active, overweight people do not have a greater risk of many diseases than inactive people who are not overweight. From a health perspective, it is of course best to be both active and a healthy weight, but if weight reduction is a problem, it doesn’t mean that the exercise is having no benefit.

Improved bone and muscle health

Your risk of osteoporosis (excessive bone thinning as you age) can be reduced by regular weight-bearing aerobic exercise such as brisk walking.

By stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels in your muscle tissues, aerobic exercise has also been shown to lessen the pain experienced by people who have fibromyalgia or chronic low back pain, as the oxygen supply to the muscles is improved and waste products are removed more efficiently.

Social benefits

Regular aerobic exercise can have social benefits too, whether you walk with a friend, play tennis with workmates, or form a social cycling team. Exercising with friends can also be the most effective way of ensuring that you do it regularly.

Aerobic exercise precautions

As with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury, and abandoning of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions.

If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity.

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