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Healthy Living

Aerobic Exercises
What Are Aerobic Activities?
Check Your Target Heart Rate
An Exercise Programme

What Are Aerobic Activities?

‘Aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. Aerobic activities are exercises that work your heart and lungs and improve your ability to take in oxygen. Certain activities make you breathe faster and make your heart beat faster. These activities enable you to take in more air and therefore oxygen, which is supplied to the muscles. These activities make the heart more efficient.

In aerobic activities, large muscles in the arms, legs and the back work rhythmically.

Target Heart Rate

The human heart can do a maximum of 200 beats per minute. When a person is resting, it beats less than half that many times. In a fit person, the heart beats slowly, regularly and more efficiently.

At the time of exercise, the pulse rate shoots up. If you have to exercise your heart, you should keep your pulse rate in the Target Heart Rate zone for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. The Target Heart Rate Zone for each individual is 60% to 80 % of the predicted maximum heart rate. Check the following table to find out your predicted maximum heart rate and Target Heart Rate (THR) zone:

Age Predicted Max Heart Rate (HR) Target Heart Rate Zone
60% Max HR 70% Max HR 80% Max HR
20 200 120 140 160
25 195 117 137 156
30 190 114 133 152
35 185 111 130 148
40 180 108 126 144
45 175 105 123 140
50 170 102 119 136
55 165 99 116 132
60 160 96 112 128

When the pulse is maintained at the Target Heart Rate Zone for the specified time during a workout, the heart becomes more efficient. The person’s resting pulse rate falls. That is, the heart is able to perform its functions with fewer strokes a minute. This keeps it from wearing out.

An Exercise Programme

Walking, jogging, running, climbing stairs, cycling, dancing and swimming are some common aerobic exercises. In a gym there are machines such as the treadmill that are used for cardiovascular exercises. (See our Indian Gym section)

The simplest exercise outside the gym, for Indian conditions, is walking. It can be done by people of all ages. It does not need equipment. It can be done at a pace suitable to the individual.

Points to Note :

  • Walking for exercise is different from a leisurely stroll.
  • Do warm up exercises before starting the walk. Arm circles, twists, leg stretches and toe touches are some simple stretches that you can warm up with.
  • Keep your shoulders back and your head up while walking. Swing your arms and hands freely. Lengthen your stride gradually and move your arms more vigorously.
  • When walking, land the foot on the heel and then the sole and push off the big toe and take a stride. This will help to distribute the impact over the entire foot.
  • Time your pace every half an hour during the first week. Try to increase it, without pushing yourself too much.
  • In the first week or two achieve one mile in 15-20 minutes.
  • Increase your pace to two miles in half an hour at the end of six weeks.
  • If ever you feel giddiness, palpitations or any other discomfort, check with your doctor.
  • Immediately after exercise, check your pulse to see if it is within the Target Heart Rate Zone.
  • You have to keep challenging yourself, or else aerobics gets monotonous and your benefits hit a plateau.


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