The Keys to Aerobic Exercise

The great thing about aerobic exercise is that there are unlimited options at your disposal. There are so many choices when it comes to picking a good workout. You could run around your house each day for 20 minutes and achieve your goal. But you will more likely have success with a variety of exercises that you enjoy.

Find a "Go To" Exercise
Do you enjoy riding a bike, running, swimming, playing tennis,or roller-blading? Whatever it is, try to find something you can use as a regular part of your fitness routine. This can become your "go to" exercise. For example, if you like riding a bike, each workout day can start with a bike ride to help get you inthe right mindset. Many times, just starting is the biggest hurdle to overcome. The "go to" exercise is like that morning cup of coffee, kick-starting your workout.

Keep Challenging Yourself
Oftentimes people will do the exact same thing for an extended period of time and wonder why they don’t see any changes. In the beginning, your body is challenged, but eventually it’s conditioned to handle the stress. The body needs to be continuously challenged to see results. It can be as simple as going from the 4.0 level on an exercise bike to 4.3, or from 0 percent grade to 1 percent on the treadmill – slowly putting a little more stress on the body, burning a few more calories, and developing more lean muscle tissue. You'll begin to notice the difference.

Raise Your Heart Rate
Most experts recommend elevating your heart rate to 60-85% of your maximum heart rate. Remember, however, it’s only a recommendation and there is room for personal adjustment. It’s good to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. To calculate your target heart rate range, use our calculator.

Start Small
The best way to begin an aerobic exercise program is to set up a manageable program. If you start out with too much, it’s a lot easier to overwhelm yourself and not stay consistent. Try starting out with 10 minutes, 2-3 days a week. Make it easy. It’s okay if you finish thinking it wasn't hard and that you could have done more – that’s what the next day is for. It becomes a challenge. The more times you tell yourself, "that wasn’t bad," the easier it becomes, instead of dreading going back tomorrow. Once you feel like you are ready for the next step, gradually add a little intensity. For example, go from 10 minutes to 15 minutes for those 2-3 days, or bump it up to 3-4 days for 10 minutes.

Try Circuit Training
Circuit training is a fun way to add variety to your aerobic workout, and an efficient way to get an aerobic and resistance training in one workout. A circuit usually consists of 6-15 exercises, in which you move from one exercise to the next with little or no rest. This allows your heart rate to stay elevated, and helps you enjoy a variety of different exercises while getting a full body workout and the benefits of aerobic effort.

Example circuit. (Click to see exercise demonstrations found in the Fitness Resource Center):
  1. Step-ups – 30 seconds
  2. Ball squats – 12 reps
  3. Lumbar extension – 16 times
  4. Push-ups with Swiss ball – 10-15 times
  5. Jump rope – 100 times
  6. Hamstring flexion with Swiss ball – 12 times
  7. Bicycle crunch – 20 times
  8. Reverse flies – 12 times
Stay Loose
It’s important to warm up, cool down and stretch during every workout. You'll be able to perform better during the workout, and your body will have a faster recovery once you're done. Check out the benefits of a proper warm-up before exercise, as well as things to think about if you are a beginner .
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Member Comments

Good tips Report
I love to walk. I will walk as long as I can before I stop. Report
I need one I can do with 1 leg r/t bum knee. I'll research some more Report
I need one I can do with 1 leg r/t bum knee. I'll research some more Report
I really liked the one about the Stair Stepper. Several years back, though I have done Curves for years, still could not get on that thing with any ease, I was just not strong enough, and did not have the breath in, after a year+ of hiking, I get on there and go for 30 minutes with ease!!!! AMAZING! Report
Great ideas Joe! I really think I could benefit from a circuit training routine. Report
Neat article. I liked the idea of a "Go To Exercise" and the circut training info was right on target to help me get over a hump. Thanks. Report
Joe is a HOTTIE!! Report
Guess this re-read article was meant for me today! I have been trying to lose 2 lbs. for 2 months, to no avail. I rarely miss a day of walking for 65 minutes and using stationary bike for 30 minutes. Guess I should take 1 or 2 days a week off. I am hoping to join a Silver Sneakers program, such as Curves, soon and shuffle up the kinds of exercises I do.
At 73 + years of age, I felt I was doing well with present program. I just bought a stability ball and hope to start using it, also. Any advice would be helpful. Report
Use Your Go To Exercise! - Guys and Dolls you are physically emotionally and mentally awesome!

PS. I'm thinking starting off slow at the beginning of the week like monday morning 20 min exercise; and bump up the intensity/activit
y as I go along the week. By Saturday I should be max out my work out. I'm thinking this way because I tend to do more socializing over the weekends; hence the extra calories. So by Monday i'm pulling a guilt trip on myself, reminding myself this is all self defeating and pointless. BUT! in the truth is, when i stick with it, I at the very least minimize weight gain if i've over indulged, and if nothing to gain nothing to lose I've maintained my current weight and had a blast doing it, or better yet i've miraculously lost more weight! hahah, yea ok. :)

Another note: YES STRETCHING BEFORE AND AFTER: it makes a huge difference.. Its possible its mental stretch. Before a work out it definitely prepares your mind to get into the groove.. And surely after the work out a strech says "thank you body for getting me through it!" ;)

Keep Motivated!
Track your completed successful goals!
Eat healthy and challenge yourself to a healthier choices! - Kick the habitual food rut. Challenge yourself to something else..
Dare to be different... I Double Dog Dare You! Report
I like the idea stated in this article about finding a Go To exercise. Mine is the treadmill. I could stay on there all day. Report
I love the idea of circuit training and will try the exercises shown. My comment is about the man doing the push-ups on the Swiss Ball. His head should be in alignment with his body, not bent back as it is shown. I'm not a professional and even I know that is wrong. Report
Best excercise is to get a dog! They always want a walk and the small, but lively breeds (like terriers) have to be walked a few times a day. My little Cairn Terrier loves snow and a light misting rain (but not a down pour) so I am walking/jogging in all kinds of weather. I get such pleasure from watching him do his 'grass swimming' in the wet summer grass, or splashing in the nearby lake. Laughing at his antics raises my endorphin levels too! GET A DOG AND GET MOVING! Report


About The Author

Joe Downie
Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.
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