Exercise is also known as aerobic
exercise. Aerobic exercise uses your large muscles and can
be continued for long periods. For example, walking,
jogging, swimming, and cycling are aerobic activities. These
types of exercises drive your body to use oxygen more
efficiently and deliver maximum benefits to your heart,
lungs, and circulatory system.
Strength-building and flexibility
exercises are known as anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic
exercise does not have cardiovascular benefits, but it makes
your muscles and bones stronger. Strength-building exercises
require short, intense effort. Flexibility exercises, which
are also anaerobic, tone your muscles through stretching and
can prevent muscle and joint problems later in life. A
well-balanced exercise program should include some type of
exercise from each category. A simple definition of
cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that raises your
heart rate to a level where you can still talk, but you
start to sweat a little.
At least 20 minutes of exercise 3 or 4
days a week should be enough to maintain a good fitness
level. Any movement is good, even house or yard work. But if
your goal is to lose weight, you will need to do some form
of cardiovascular exercise for 4 or more days a week for 30
to 45 minutes or longer.
The ideal exercise program starts with a
5- to 10-minute warm-up, which includes gentle movements
that will slightly increase your heart rate. Then, slowly
move into 20 or more minutes of a cardiovascular exercise of
your choice, such as aerobics, jogging on a treadmill, or
walking, to reach what is called your target heart rate.
Your target heart rate is a guideline that can help you
measure your fitness level before the start of your program
and help you keep track of your progress after you begin an
exercise program. Target heart rate also lets you know how
hard you are exercising. If you are beginning an exercise
program, you should aim for the low end of your target heart
rate zone. If you exercise regularly, you may want to work
out at the high end of the zone.
To stay within your target heart rate
zone, you will need to take your pulse every so often as you
exercise. You can find your pulse in 2 places: at the base
of your thumb on either hand, or at the side of your neck.
Put your first 2 fingers over your pulse and count the
number of beats within a 10-second period. Multiply this
number by 6, and you will have the number of heartbeats in a
minute. For example, if you counted your pulse to be 20
during the 10-second pulse count, your heart rate would be
120 beats per minute.