There are three components to exercise that we will begin talking about in regards to fitness. They are aerobic (cardiovascular), strength and flexibility. Remember, once again, to choose an exercise routine that you will enjoy doing to improve daily compliance. If you are just getting started with exercise use caution and don’t overdo it. Doing too much, too soon can result in injury, fatigue, poor sleep or elevated resting heart rate. Make sure that before you perform any exercises you are warming up appropriately and also cooling down afterwards.
Today we are going to talk about aerobic exercise, or cardiovascular exercise. This form of exercise provides an opportunity to strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve a marker called heart rate variability. Heart rate variability (HRV) is an entire topic in and of itself. HRV is an important component to overall health. If we say that your heart beats 60 beats per minute, it does so with an irregularity…or variability. The stronger the system the more variability. Think about a weak system…a stopped heart…and there is no variability. It is flat-lined.
To gain the benefits of cardiovascular exercise you should maintain your target heart rate for 20-30 minutes of the exercise each day. Dr. Kenneth Cooper coined the term “aerobics” more than three decades ago. He stated that exercise must be done in the 60-80% of maximum heart rate range to be effective. Recent research has suggested that maintaining your heart rate above 50% of the maximum heart rate for the duration of the activity is able to have significant health benefits for you.
Calculating Your Target Heart Rate
It is not difficult at all to identify where your target heart rate should be. Follow the equations below to identify your range.
- Estimate your maximum heart rate: 220 minus your age = ___________
- Determine your lower limit exercise heart rate by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 0.5: _______ x 0.5 = ______
- Determine your medium limit exercise heart rate by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 0.6: _____ x 0.6 = _____
- Determine your maximum limit exercise heart rate by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 0.8: _____x0.8 = ____
The intensity of the exercise required to reach your target heart rate will vary according to your own level of fitness. If you have been sedentary for a long time then it won’t take much to get your heart rate up the required intensity.
Activities that confer aerobic benefit include:
- Elliptical machines
- Aerobic classes
- Rowing machines
Also remember to not begin an exercise program without your health care provider’s approval.