Aerobic activity or “cardio” gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to walking or biking to the store – these types of activities and more count. As long as you’re doing aerobic physical activities at a moderate- or vigorous-intensity, they count toward meeting the aerobic guideline.
Intensity is how hard your body is working during a physical activity.
Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if it’s a moderate-intensity aerobic activity is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:
Doing water aerobics
Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
Playing doubles tennis
Pushing a lawn mower
Vigorous-intensity aerobic activitymeans you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. You may use the Talk Test to gauge the intensity of your aerobic physical activity. If you’re being active at a vigorous level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Here are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:
Jogging or running
Riding a bike fast or on hills
Playing singles tennis
If you are doing moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking or hiking, you can talk, but not sing during the activity.
Build Up Over TimeIf you want to do more vigorous-level activities, slowly replace those that take moderate effort like brisk walking with more vigorous activities like jogging. Learn more about getting started with physical activity to improve health.
You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two, each week. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
Some people like to do vigorous activity because it gives them about the same health benefits in half the time. If you haven’t been very active lately, however, increase your physical activity level slowly. If you have a history of a chronic disease, consider telling your doctor you are planning to increase your physical activity, including moving to more vigorous activity. You need to feel comfortable doing moderate-intensity activities before you move on to more vigorous ones. Learn more about additional types of physical activity that are right for you.
Want more tips on how you can add a variety of activities in your life? Check this out.