THERE ARE two categories of exercise: Strength
training and aerobic (or cardio) exercise. Strength training
aims at increasing the strength of skeletal muscles. Aerobic
exercise aims at increasing the strength of the heart and the
health and vigor of the circulatory system and lungs.
Aerobic exercise is a sustained effort
and can include running, eliptical machines, swimming, biking,
or anything that uses large muscle groups over a period of time
usually longer than fifteen minutes.
How do you know if you're running or biking
(or whatever) fast enough to be "aerobic?" Simple:
Check your pulse. And try to keep in your "aerobic heart
range." If your pulse is too fast, slow down. If it's not
fast enough, go faster.
Here's how to find your ideal heart rate
during aerobic exercise:
Subtract your age from 220. That number
is your maximum heart rate (number of heartbeats per minute).
Your heart rate during exercise should
be between 60% - 80% of your maximum heart rate. Make it 60%
if you're a beginner. As you get in better shape, you can eventually
work out at 80% of your maximum heart rate.
The best way to check your pulse is to
put two fingers on the side of your neck and count the number
of beats for ten seconds. Multiply that by six for your number
of heartbeats per minute.
Many exercise machines have heart rate
monitors built into them, which makes it easier. You can also
get a heart rate monitor that fits on your wrist.
If you're a beginner, check your heart
rate every ten minutes or so. If you've been doing it for a year
or more, you can check it every twenty minutes.
If all this sounds terribly complicated,
it really isn't. After figuring out your ideal heart rate, you'll
know it and after measuring it many times, you'll get to know
the feel of being in your aerobic range.
If you'd like to have more motivation to
exercise, read this: Exercise
For more information about aerobic heart
rates, I recommend these books:
Precision Heart Rate Training
High School Healthy Hearts
in the Zone: A Heart Rate Monitoring Program for Lifelong Fitness (this is a good one for beginners)
The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook
to Heart Zone Training
Total Heart Rate Training:
Customize and Maximize Your Workout Using a Heart Rate Monitor