Aerobic exercise is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to help you increase your caloric deficit, develop your cardiovascular health, improve your energy and increase your stamina.

At first, it may be intimidating, but getting started can be as simple as taking out your iPod and walking around the block; bottom line is… you have to start somewhere. Whether you jog, run, skip, dance, swim, play sports or like to jump around, aerobic exercises build up a sweat and burning off calories while you work.

The FDA suggests that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day, every day. Moderate activity includes walking briskly, hiking, playing golf, lawn work, bicycling less than 10 miles per hour; anything where you’re raising your heartbeat, but it isn’t necessarily near its maximum threshold. Vigorous activity includes running or jogging at 5 mph or more, swimming, heavy yard work (like chopping wood) and competitive sports; activities where your heart beats near the threshold for a period of time.

For weight loss, it is best is to perform cardio exercises 5 times per week combined with a balanced diet and muscle strengthening activities. When you incorporate physical activity more often you can achieve better results in less amount time. However, make sure you are listening to your body, incorporating rest and not overexerting your body. The consistency and quality of your activity is more important than quantity you perform.; exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes is more efficient and will lead to better results than one 150 minutes per week.

There are a plethora of health benefits that we enjoy as our bodies begin to strengthen due to our increased level of activity:

  • Boost energy and endurance
  • Burns calories and speeds up metabolism
  • Improves our Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Helps prevent cardiovascular diseases by improving circulation, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Strengthens our immunity
  • Maintain normal sugar levels
  • Helps improve our mood and emotional state through the release of chemicals in our brain

You can measure your heart rate with an activity monitor while you perform your physical activity.

In general, measuring your heartbeat with a monitor during your activity is recommended. Another way to determine if you’re working hard enough without measuring your heartbeat, is called the talk test. If you can be in the middle of your activity and still be able to talk normally or sing along to your tunes, chances are you need to step it up a notch. On the other hand, if you can hardly say a word without needing to gasp for a breath you may need to slow it down.

As you improve your cardiovascular endurance, your body will become more efficient and therefore you will need to increase the intensity of your activity to achieve the same level of caloric expenditure. Continue challenging yourself in every training, so that you can continue to improve. Stay consistent in order to keep improving, to establish your activity as a habit and to maintain your level of motivation.

Finally, keep your routine varied so that your body does not get accustomed to the activity and so that you don’t get bored by the monotony of your routine. Alternating the intensity of your activity or all together changing it up, will keep you improving as your body becomes more efficient over time.