Aerobic Exercise

If you are on a mission to lose weight and to keep it off, then aerobic exercise must be part of your plan. Aerobic exercise involves repetitive movement of the body's large muscle groups. This continuous movement gives your heart and lungs a workout as they provide your muscles with oxygen. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and dancing.

Getting Started

If it's been a while since you've laced up your sneakers, don't think you can pick up where you left off. Start up slowly. Walk 10 minutes a day. If you used to love doing high-impact step aerobics, try low-impact aerobics. Gradually build up to at least 150 minutes a week, or 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, increasing your intensity over time.

Target Heart Rate

To exercise at your ideal intensity level without overdoing it, know your Target Heart Rate (THR). Target Heart Rate is your goal for exercise training. It is 60 to 85 percent of the maximum beat your heart can sustain.

To determine your THR, subtract your age from 220, and then find 60 to 85 percent of the answer. Take your pulse periodically while you're exercising to make sure you are exercising in your target range.

Added Benefits

Besides helping to trim your figure, aerobic activities provide many other benefits. Aerobic exercise is the closest thing to a "magic bullet" for weight loss. No single medication can do so much. Aerobic exercise increases your energy, helps you sleep better, improves your posture, curbs your appetite, fights off colds, gets rid of "the blues", relieves stress, boosts your self-image, and helps prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Keep going

The key to sticking with an exercise routine is planning ahead. Look at your calendar for the upcoming week and block out times that you will dedicate to working out. Get others involved, too. Share your exercise routine with friends, family, or co-workers who you know will provide you with support and encouragement, especially for those days when you need that extra push. Even better - work out with a friend. That way you can be social while you exercise. And you'll be sure not to miss a workout!


  • Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Aerobic exercise and HDL2-C: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Atherosclerosis. 184 (2006): 207-215.
  • Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Effects of aerobic exercise on C-reactive protein, body composition, and maximum oxygen consumption in adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Metabolism. 55 (2006).1500-1507.
  • Department of Health and Human Services. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Key Recommendations for the General Population. April 13, 2007 Updated January 11, 2005.
  • Shape Up America! Healthy Weight for Life. Updated November 2005. April 13, 2007

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