There are a couple things to think about when it comes to aerobic exercise.
The first is the type of activity you are doing – walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, zumba, yoga, elliptical, rowing machine, stairs, etc. – the list goes on and on. Many of these activities can be done just about anywhere. For instance, let’s consider walking. You can walk indoors at a mall, indoors on a treadmill, or outdoors. While getting outdoors is great, weather doesn’t always permit that to happen. So, if you prefer to get outdoors, it is always good to have a backup-indoor plan. Your physical activity should not come to a standstill because it is raining, too cold, or too hot outside.
The second thing to think about is the intensity level. This refers to the level of effort you are putting into the activity and it will differ for everyone. What is moderate for one person may be light intensity for another person. This is due to how fit each person is. The intensity level impacts the number of calories you burn during your activity. Again, let’s look at walking. A slower pace walk will burn less calories than a brisk-paced walk. One way to know the intensity level of your activity is the talk test. According to Sparkpeople, you are at a good intensity level when you can have a conversation with someone. If you are struggling to talk, then you may be working too hard.
Another way to tell your intensity level is your heart rate. Your heart rate helps let you know the intensity level you are working at. The faster your heart rate during activity, the higher the intensity level and the more calories you are burning. Obtain your resting heart rate first and then multiply that number by 50-85% for your target heart range. There is also a chart of target heart rates based on your age. (See the AHA Target Heart Rates article for more information on this) And some gyms offer testing to help you determine your target heart rate zones based on your fitness level.
Nowadays, many people are focused on the steps they take. Thanks to gadgets like pedometers, the Fitbit, Vivofit, and even our smartphones, we can easily know how many steps we take each day. While all these steps are beneficial, you should consider the intensity level you are taking these steps at and your heart rate. Are you working into a moderate (or even vigorous) level of intensity? If not, you should definitely add more activity to your day. Also, all these steps are great for the legs; however, we need to remember that muscle strengthening and flexibility are two other types of exercise we should be doing.
What is your favorite aerobic exercise?