Increasing the endurance level of the body is usually set as ultimate goal of any aerobic workout. The emphasis of an aerobic or cardio fitness workout is to start slowly and always do too little rather than too much, when in doubt. For example, if running is your goal then you can begin by walking a certain distance that you can complete without feeling fatigued or sore. Your efficiency will improve overtime thus enabling you to walk a greater distance at a faster pace without discomfort. Eventually, you can also try a combination of walking and running once you’ve completed a brisk walk of let’s say 30 minutes.
It is usually recommended that all adults be active at least 30 minutes a day and for 5 to 7 days per week. Hence you should gradually work your way to jogging 30 minutes continuously while decreasing the distance you walk. After achieving these basic levels of activity, it’ll be beneficial to add more aerobic activities to derive more health and fitness benefits.
In case you’re just beginning vigorous activities then you can start with less than 20 minutes and gradually increase the duration of your workout. The amount of time for which you’re required to do an aerobic workout depends on your age. In this context, it’s important to introduce a term called the target heart rate.
Let’s say your age is 40 years, then your maximal heart rate is 220-your age=220-40=180. Now you need to take 70 percent and 90 percent of that value, which in your case would be 70 percent of 180 beats per minute=126 beats per minute and 90 percent of 180 beats per minute=162 beats per minute.
Hence for a 40 year old, the target heart rate range is between126 and 162 beats per minute. Once you’ve done this calculation then you can adjust your aerobic activity between 20 to 60 minutes while remaining within your target heart rate range at all times. In order to eradicate monotony, you can adjust your duration and intensity but only after several weeks of training.
Individuals often ask an important question as to how often should I exercise. In order to answer this, you need to remember that aerobic benefits begin to level off when you work out at high intensity for more than four days a week. However, your heart does get stronger the more you exercise. Due to this, it is recommended to engage in every-other-day workouts. Following such a format will allow improvements in heart function; lower risk of injuries and give muscles and joints a chance to rest. In case you’re engaging in aerobic workout for weight loss reasons, then you need to exercise at high intensity if you’re doing the same for only three days a week.
It’s not just the total time but also the intensity which is equally important when it comes to an aerobic workout. Basically, exercise intensity is a measure of the effort you put in a workout. It is usually expressed as a percentage of oxygen consumption or maximal heart rate (Calculate it as shown previously). Your exercise intensity should be sufficient to increase the functional capacity of cardiovascular and respiratory systems. In case you’re not achieving this then you need to increase your intensity. Several studies have confirmed that cardio-respiratory fitness is enhanced when the training intensity is 75 to 90 percent of maximal heart rate. If you’re de-conditioned or sedentary, then 50 to 70 percent of maximal heart rate would be sufficient.