Aerobic Exercise Frequency: Which Is Better for Your Health?
How often do you exercise? 30 minutes per day versus 1 hour? 3 days per week, 5 days, or every day? How often and how long you should exercise has been debated to determine what is best for your heart. But, which is better for you?
Here, we will delve into the topic of aerobic exercise, including examples and the ideal aerobic exercise frequency for optimal health.
What Is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise refers to cardiovascular conditioning. Often referred to as “cardio,” aerobic exercise helps to strengthen or work the heart. During these activities, the heart and breathing rates increase. The goal is to keep the heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy.
Aerobic Exercise Examples
There is often confusion between aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise. Aerobic means “with oxygen.” The increased heart and breathing rates pump oxygen through your blood. These activities are performed for a sustained amount of time.
Anaerobic exercises involve quick bursts of energy. Each exercise uses your maximum strength and energy in short spurts. Anaerobic exercise includes weightlifting or sprinting. These are performed at a higher intensity and usually last less than a couple minutes per task.
Aerobic exercises can be done at home, at the gym, or on the sports field. Common examples of aerobic exercise include:
- Jump roping
- Jogging or running
- Playing tennis
- Biking (stationary, street, or mountain)
- Using the elliptical or cardio machines
- Aerobic classes such as kickboxing or Zumba
Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regardless of your age or ability level, regular cardio activity is good for you. It improves your health, makes you fit, and affects your quality of life. These activities can help you:
- Lose extra pounds.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Increase your stamina and strength.
- Boost your immune system.
- Reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Strength your heart.
- Improve your mood.
- Live longer.
30 Minutes vs. 1 Hour: Which Is Better?
Now that you understand the benefits of aerobic activity, how do you know how often to work out? Is it better to do aerobic exercise for 30 minutes/day for 5 days or 60 minutes/day for 3 days?
The Ideal Aerobic Exercise Frequency
The American Heart Association recommends participating in physical activity for 150 minutes each week. This recommendation applies to children and adults. Adults should spend half of this time in high-intensity activities and the other half in moderate intensity or strength training. Increasing your activity to 300 minutes per week only boosts your benefits.
Is longer better? The CDC recommends that children get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Part of adolescents’ daily exercise should include 3 days of high-intensity activity, 3 days of strength training, and 3 days of bone-strengthening activities.
What about adults?
Some exercise enthusiasts debate the idea of short bursts of high-intensity workouts versus longer, more controlled routines. Short, intense workouts may have more benefits than longer routines. Your heart rate is up, the activity is strenuous, and you may burn more calories. However, longer aerobic activity is more controlled and brings you through periods of high and low intensity to truly work your body and mind.
How Long Should You Exercise?
So which is better? In reality, any movement is better than no movement. How long you exercise depends on you, your fitness level, and your personal goals, but the general rule of thumb is to exercise for 30 minutes each day. You can determine how to use the time.
When you are just starting an exercise routine, 30 minutes per day may seem like a stretch. Remember that the goal is to get your heart rate up. You can set a lower goal or go for a brisk walk and gradually lengthen your exercise intensity and time frame.
Improve Your Health with Regular Aerobic Exercise
A lack of regular exercise can increase your risk of chronic diseases and obesity. Any movement is better than nothing. Remember, before starting a new type of exercise program, consider talking to your doctor to confirm that the activity is safe for you. Start your workout with a good warm-up stretch to prepare your heart, muscles, and body and to reduce the risk of injuries.