Aerobic Exercise: Everything You Need to Know!

Last Update:

Aerobic exercises are activities that work your cardiovascular system — they get your heart rate up and make you breathe harder. They are what people often think of when they hear the word “exercise.”

Photo of Woman Listening to Music on Earphones Running Down a Sidewalk

Aerobic exercises improve your heart health by forcing you to breathe deeply and by increasing your heart rate. They are what most people think of when they hear the term “exercise.   Continue reading to discover more about this type of exercise, its advantages, and how to build a safe and successful aerobic program.

What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise is a type of rhythmic activity that increases heart rate over the “optimal heart rate zone”. This is the area in which the fat and calories are burned.

Examples Of Aerobic Exercise

  1. Jogging 
  2. Swimming 
  3. brisk walking
  4. Ice skating
  5. Kayaking
  6. Aerobic dance 
  7. cross-country skiing

An individual ability to perform aerobic exercises depends upon a number of factors. According to research published by the American Heart Association, heredity has a 20% to 40% effect on what you can perform [1]. Additionally, females have a 25% lower aerobic capacity compared to males, and this capacity declines with aging for both sexes.

This is not to suggest that you cannot improve your cardiovascular health due to your genes, gender, or age. However, it is important to understand that there are several factors that might affect how well your body responds to aerobic training.

Also Read: Aerobic Exercise Examples: Types & Benefits – The Ultimate Guide!

Woman Ice Skating on Snow

Health benefits of aerobic exercise?

There are the following benefits of performing aerobic exercise.

1. Helps In Weight Loss

Aerobic activity burns calories, which when combined with a good diet can aid in weight loss [2]. Additionally, aerobic exercise tones your muscles and helps your posture.

From above crop anonymous barefoot child in jeans standing on weigh scales on tiled floor of bathroom

2. Promotes Fitness

Aerobic exercise provides you with more energy to work out over time. Aerobic exercise increases stamina by increasing your body’s capacity to take in and use oxygen for fuel, providing you more energy for work and pleasure. 

Man Sitting on Flat Bench

3. Improves Joints And Bones Health

 Aerobic activity of a moderate- or vigorous-intensity, such as jogging or jumping rope, can help enhance bone density in older adults and those suffering from osteoarthritis or other rheumatic disorders, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It also supports muscle function and growth [3].

Osteoporosis is a disorder marked by reduced bone density, which increases the peril of fracture. Research has shown that aerobic exercise can boost bone density or at the very least halt its decline in both women and men.  

While it might not be effective for everyone and the particular type and level of exercise required to exploit the advantages are unidentified, there is research that indicates it can help [4].

Close up on Womans Legs on Car Park

4. Reduces Risk Of Cancer

Aerobic exercise also helps in reducing the risk of cancer by keeping weight under control, preventing inflammation, and improving immune health.  A recent study conducted on 1.4 million people in the Europe and United States discovered that moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise was associated with a decreased risk of 13 different types of cancer [5]

Cancer Word Spelled on Scrabble Tiles

5. Promotes life

Additionally, large research conducted on over 660,000 adults discovered that those who engaged in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week were 31% less likely to die compared to those who did not engage in any physical activity during a 14-year period [6].

Woman Surrounded By Sunflowers

6. Boots Mood

Moving your body might also help you feel better. In a research participants with depression walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes. These people were required to report any alternation in their mood after ten days [7] .

All of the individuals observed a significant decrease in depression symptoms. These findings imply that exercising, even for a short time, might have a significant impact on mood. You don’t have to wait nearly two weeks to see results. According to the findings of the study, even a single workout session may be enough to give you a boost.

Photo of Man Leaning on Wooden Table

7. Reduces Chronic Pain

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, aerobic exercise, particularly low-impact activities like aqua aerobics or swimming, may help you regain endurance and muscle function. Exercise can also aid weight loss, which can help decrease chronic back pain.

Also Read: How To Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy While Sleeping

Man and Woman Holding Each Others Hand

8. Decreases Blood Pressure

 Aerobic exercise may aid in the management of hypertension symptoms. This is because exercise can decrease blood pressure by strengthening your heart muscles.  A stronger heart can pump more blood with decreased effort [8]

A Sphygmomanometer on White Surface

9. Assists In Decreasing Blood Sugar

Regular physical activity helps balance insulin levels and blood sugar levels, all while maintaining a healthy body weight. Researchers discovered that any type of movement, whether aerobic or anaerobic, can improve insulin levels and decrease blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetic individuals [9] .

Top view of crop anonymous female diabetic measuring blood sugar with glucometer over scattered lancets

Types of Aerobic exercise

There are two main types of aerobic exercise. Simple aerobic exercise and “High-intensity interval training”. 

Simple Aerobic Exercise

 Choose the duration of your walk (For example, walk for twenty minutes for the first time) and head out the door or jump on the treadmill. Keep in mind that to do aerobic exercise, you have to “walk at a pace” that makes you “warm and somewhat out of breath” and that you can maintain for the time being that you did plan.   

In this situation, set a goal of 20 minutes and pace yourself to accomplish it. If you perform too quickly, you risk popping out early. It is irrelevant how quickly you do the task; what is critical is that you try to complete the time. If you think that twenty minutes is too long, begin with less. Again, the most important step is to begin. You can always add difficulty afterward.

Interval Training 

Interval training is a more strenuous kind of aerobic exercise. It’s an extremely effective method of increasing your fitness but it requires hard work. Intervals are designed to establish “work-to-active-rest ratios (work: active-rest)”, and as you improve in fitness, you can lower the “active-rest” interval while increasing the work interval. 

The ratio’s “work interval” is faster than your normal speed, while the active-rest period is the same as your normal speed. If you want to do this, you start by cycling at your normal speed for 5 to 8 minutes. Then, for one to three minutes, increase your work interval speed. Then, gradually decrease your speed for a few minutes to catch your breath. You do this for the rest of your workout.

Also Read: What Are the Different Types of Aerobics Training? [MUST READ]

Full body of runner in sportswear jogging along paved pavement in sunny day in city

Aerobic Exercise Intensity

High-Intensity Aerobics: This is defined as exercise that exceeds 70 percent to 85 percent of your “maximal heart rate” (MHR), or a perceived exertion scale of 7 to 8. This level is strenuous and leaves you too out of breath to speak much. If you are the newbie to exercise, try “beginner interval training” to force your body to work harder in a short time period.

Moderate intensity Aerobics: At a moderate intensity, your heart rate lies in the range of 50 percent and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (a level 5 to 6 on the “perceived exertion scale”). HHS frequently recommends this degree of intensity. This is the target you should normally aim for during your exercise routine.

Low-Intensity Aerobic: It is defined as exerting less than 50% of your maximum heart rate, or approximately a level three to four on the “perceived exertion scale”. This is an excellent exercise that can be performed for warm-ups or while fitting in other activities, for example, walking during the day.

An on Treadmill

How To Calculate Maximum Heart Rate

You can calculate your max heart rate by subtracting your age in years from 220   someone in their forties, would have a maximum heart rate of roughly 220 minus 40, 180 beats per minute. This person’s heart rate should be between 99 and 126 BPM during “moderate-intensity exercise” (55 to 70 percent of their MHR) [10].

 However, this is only a rough suggestion, and some people’s maximal heart rates might be greater than twenty beats higher or lower than the average for their age. As a result, it’s a great idea to use your sense of how difficult the exercise is – a decent guideline is to be a little bit breathless yet able to speak.

What is A Normal Resting Heart Rate? | Elemental

How much Aerobic exercise do you need?

According to the mayo clinic and most recent physical activity guidelines from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adults should engage in at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity (for example brisk walking) every week [11,12]

There are numerous ways to distribute those 150 minutes throughout the week, but most experts advocate dividing it up into 30 minutes of physical exercise five days a week. This means that taking a 3-10-minute walk every day will allow you to meet the suggested minimum guidelines for lowering your risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Additionally, you would burn the same number of calories as if you walked for the entire 30 minutes at once. Moreover, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that a minimum of three 30-minute sessions of moderate to intense exercise increase cardiorespiratory fitness and aid in weight management [13] .

If you choose a vigorous activity, such as jogging, for your workout, you will not need to do as much. According to the HHS guidelines and Mayo clinic, 75 minutes of vigorous activity (1 hour and 15 minutes) each week is equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity [12].

Enduring man running fast on treadmill


For general health, consider 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio 3 days per week. Additionally, you can do a combination.

In order to lose weight or prevent weight gain: you are required to engage in greater than 300 minutes of “moderate-intensity activity’ on a weekly basis.

In order to maintain healthy body weight, you require between 150–300 minutes of “moderate-intensity activity” per week.

Also Read: How Long Should You Ride a Stationary Bike to Lose Weight?

Tips To Avoid Injury While Performing Aerobic Exercises

The primary dangers associated with aerobic activity stem from exercising too hard and too quickly at the start of a workout. When people are just starting out, it is recommended that people should move at their own pace.

The pre-exercise test can help you determine if you are at an increased risk of suffering a health concern while participating in physical activity. This is a filter or safety net’ to assist you in determining if the possible benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks. 

Before beginning any physical activity or exercise program, read through the pre-exercise self-screening tool. When determining the safety of any activity, you must examine the method used as well as your own unique circumstances, such as fitness level and injury history. 

Consult a certified fitness instructor, sports medicine physician, physiotherapist, or exercise physiologist if you have a pre-existing medical condition and injury. 

Numerous changes occur during pregnancy, including changes in body structure and size, which raise the risk of injury. All pregnant women should discuss their fitness plans with their doctor, as each pregnancy is unique.

Bear in mind that speeding up any workout increases the chance of injury. Any workout that gives you pain or discomfort should be avoided or modified. Do not overlook your body’s pain signals,  fatigue, or discomfort. 

Cross-train with different exercises and sports to avoid overtraining.

Ensure that you have at least one recovery day per week, preferably two. Bear in mind that injuries require rest – attempting to ‘work through the pain will aggravate the injury and postpone healing.

Also Read: Break Your Workout Routine: Discover 11 Step-Up Alternatives For Better Results

 Individuals need to follow the slogan “start  out slow and progress slow .” This involves beginning with a moderate level of activity and progressively increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Additionally, individuals with joint difficulties should avoid high-impact workouts, such as those that require a great deal of jumping. Rather than that, individuals should focus on low-impact workouts such as riding a stationary bicycle, exercising on an elliptical machine, or performing water exercises. 

Woman Wrapping Man's Leg with Bandage


Consult your physician before beginning an aerobic exercise or any other workout plan. Determine that the workout is safe for you to perform. Additionally, pay attention to your body. If it indicates that you are exercising excessively, it is time to decrease the duration, frequency, and intensity of your workouts.


  1. Lavie C, Arena R, Swift D, et al. Exercise and the cardiovascular system. Circular Res. 2015;117:207-19. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.117.305205.
  2. Thorogood, A., Mottillo, S., Shimony, A., Filion, K. B., Joseph, L., Genest, J., … & Eisenberg, M. J. (2011). Isolated aerobic exercise and weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American journal of medicine, 124(8), 747-755.
  4. NK, O. G., Koseoglu, F., & Albayrak, N. (2008). Reduced aerobic capacity in patients with severe osteoporosis: a cross-sectional study. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 44(2), 141-147.
  7. Dimeo, F., Bauer, M., Varahram, I., Proest, G., & Halter, U. (2001). Benefits from aerobic exercise in patients with major depression: a pilot study. British journal of sports medicine, 35(2), 114-117.
  8. Yang, Z., Scott, C.A., Mao, C. et al. Resistance Exercise Versus Aerobic Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 44, 487–499 (2014).
  9. Shakil-ur-Rehman, S., Karimi, H., & Gillani, S. A. (2017). Effects of a supervised structured aerobic exercise training program on fasting blood glucose level, plasma insulin level, glycemic control, and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pakistan journal of medical sciences, 33(3), 576.
  10. Karvonen, J., & Vuorimaa, T. (1988). Heart rate and exercise intensity during sports activities. Sports medicine, 5(5), 303-311.
Photo of author
Under training to become your personal trainer of choice. If Nelson is not busy producing awesome content to improve your mental, physical health and wellbeing, he’s probably sweating it out at the gym or watching Arsenal break hearts. A salesman and digital marketer , an avid reader, plays tennis and adventurous. He’s a disciple of self-development and follows everything fitness religiously.