Another plan I like is the five-minute out, five-minute back plan. Just like it sounds, you walk for five minutes from your starting point, turn around, and walk back. It's simple and doable for almost everyone. It's a change in your activity behavior even though it's not all that much, and you can increase as you get more used to it. From five minutes you could go to seven and a half out, seven and a half back, a total of 15 minutes just like that. And you can keep your eye on 15 out, 15 back, and there you go meeting the Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes. If you're feeling ambitious, you can add some abdominal crunches and push-ups once you get back. For push-ups, if you can't do a standard one on the floor, modify them by leaning against a wall, leaning against a table, or on your knees on the floor. The lower you go the harder they are. Start with two to three sets of crunches and push-ups, 12-15 repetitions, three to four days a week. As they get easier, you can increase the intensity of crunches by going slower or putting your legs in the air with your knees bent. As push-ups get easier, you can go to the next lower level (for example, from wall to table to on your knees on the floor).
What is aerobic exercise?‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It involves repeated rhythmic movements of the large muscles of your body, such as those in your arms or legs.Examples of aerobic exercise includebrisk walking;jogging;swimming;cycling;dancing;cross-country skiing;ice-skating;kayaking;roller-blading; andaerobic dance (often simply called aerobics).Because you need more oxygen to do aerobic exercise, you breathe more rapidly and deeply to get extra oxygen into your lungs. Your heart also beats faster to deliver more oxygen-carrying blood from your lungs to your muscles.How fast your heart beats and how rapidly you breathe will depend on how intense (hard) the exercise is, with gentle exercise causing only slight increases in breathing and heart rate, but more vigorous exercise resulting in greater increases.Aerobic versus anaerobic exerciseThe term ‘aerobic exercise’ comes from the fact that the energy used during this form of exercise is linked to the consumption of oxygen (aerobic metabolism). Aerobic exercise is of a light to moderate intensity, and is characterised by our ability to maintain it for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours).Very strenuous exercise, such as running fast or rapidly cycling uphill uses energy at a very fast rate, and will exceed our muscles’ capacity to work aerobically. Exercise at these higher intensities does involve the use of oxygen, but also requires your muscles to undertake some additional metabolism without oxygen (anaerobic metabolism). This anaerobic metabolism results in the production of fatiguing factors that cause you to have to slow down and eventually stop. The length of time before this occurs will depend on how much anaerobic metabolism is involved, with higher exercise intensities that require greater anaerobic metabolism causing fatigue to occur more quickly.How often should I do aerobic exercise?For general health and fitness benefits, such as reducing your risk of heart disease and improving your stamina, it is recommended that you do some form of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on most, and preferably all, days of the week, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. This 30-minute total can be made up of shorter 10-minute sessions, if this is better suited to your day. These short sessions will still provide health benefits and produce some fitness improvements, although to substantially increase your fitness you probably need to include at least some 30-minute sessions in your week.To maintain your level of aerobic fitness, and the health advantages that go with it, you need to keep up a regular aerobic exercise routine. Giving up your routine or doing less exercise will cause your fitness and associated health benefits to decline.It’s also important to avoid prolonged sedentary behaviour, such as sitting continuously for several hours. So, in addition to trying to incorporate exercise into your day, you should also try to break up your sedentary behaviours, for example by getting up and walking around your office for a few minutes every hour, or during the advertisement breaks when watching TV.How hard should I do aerobic exercise?To improve your general health and fitness, moderate intensity aerobic exercise is recommended. However, if you are very unfit and currently do no exercise, even short bouts of light exercise will be of benefit. With continued participation, this light exercise will produce fitness improvements that will enable you to progress to moderate intensity exercise.As a general guide, ‘moderate intensity’ aerobic exercise may make you slightly breathless, but still able to hold a conversation, and you should be able to sustain this level of exercise for at least 30 minutes. An example would be when going on a brisk walk, jog or bike ride with a friend.If you want to be more exact in determining your exercise intensity, then you can use your heart rate as a guide. Moderate intensity exercise is likely to increase your heart rate to between 55 and 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate. More vigorous exercise will increase your heart rate even further.How to estimate your maximum heart rateHow to estimate your maximum heart rateYour maximum heart rate in beats per minute = approx 220 minus your ageBut this is a rough estimate, and there is a lot of individual variation. (Your maximum heart rate tends to decline by about 1 beat per year with increasing age.)You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age in years from 220. For someone who is 40, for example, their maximum heart rate would be estimated to be around 220 minus 40, which is 180 beats per minute. So, during moderate intensity exercise, this person could expect to have a heart rate between 99 and 126 beats per minute (55 to 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate). However, this is just a rough estimate, and some people can have maximum heart rates more than 20 beats above or below that estimated for their age. So it’s a good idea to also use your perception of how hard the exercise is — the guide of being slightly breathless but able to hold a conversation is a good one.Beta-blockers and exerciseBeta-blockers are one type of medicine used to lower blood pressure as well as treat angina and certain heart rhythm disorders. They work by slowing down the rate at which the heart beats. People taking beta blockers should talk to their doctor about their planned exercise programme. Moderate intensity exercise is often recommended for people taking beta-blockers, but since the heart rate calculations described above do not apply to them, the best guide to determining a suitable exercise intensity is their perceived exertion.Measuring your heart rateIf you do not possess a heart rate monitor, an easy way to measure your heart rate is to count your pulse for 10 seconds then multiply this count by 6 to calculate your heart rate per minute. To find your pulse, locate either your carotid artery (found on the side of your neck, just under your jaw bone) or your radial artery (in your wrist at the base of your thumb). Then gently place your index and middle fingers over the artery, but don’t press too hard or you will stop the flow of blood in that artery and not be able to detect a pulse.Be aware that aiming for a target heart rate when exercising is a rough guide and may not work for some people. Older people who are physically fit may have a higher maximum heart rate than a younger, less fit person, and a higher maximum heart rate than that given by subtracting their age from 220.Progressing to greater levels of fitnessIf you are already active and getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week but want to attain a higher level of health and fitness, you will need to increase your aerobic exercise levels, either by exercising at a higher intensity and/or by doing more exercise.Vigorous aerobic exercise — exercising at 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate — will result in further fitness and health gains. As a guide, at this intensity you will be breathing hard and finding it difficult to talk in full sentences between breaths. This level of exercise is more strenuous and should only be contemplated if you are already accustomed to regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise. To prevent ‘overdoing it’, it is a good idea to alternate between moderate and vigorous exercise days with, for example, 30 or more minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise on 3 or 4 days a week, interspersed with days of 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise.For people undertaking high-level sports training, a qualified trainer is likely to develop an individualised programme that varies from the above guidelines with regard to the intensity (how hard), the duration (how long) and the frequency (how often) of the aerobic exercise sessions. This is because the main aim of their training is to improve their sporting performance - the associated health benefits that accompany this are a fortunate side benefit, rather than the main goal.A balanced fitness programmeFor people of all fitness levels, aerobic exercise should form part of a balanced exercise programme that also includes 2 to 3 sessions per week of exercise to increase muscle strength, e.g. resistance training; and some stretching and flexibility work, e.g. a basic stretching routine or attending a yoga class. Needless to say, healthy eating and plenty of rest will complete a well-rounded fitness programme.Aerobic exercise precautionsAppropriate aerobic exercise is recommended for almost everybody, regardless of age, but may need to be modified to ensure its suitability for people with existing health problems.If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity. The level and type of exercise may be adjusted to ensure that it can be undertaken safely and effectively.As with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury and abandonment of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions. When you do increase your level of aerobic exercise, increase only one component — the intensity, duration, or frequency of your aerobic exercise sessions — at a time.It’s never too late to startAn important health and fitness message is that people of all ages can benefit from regular aerobic exercise. And, if you are unfit, unhealthy or an older adult, you may have the most to gain from including it in your lifestyle. Last Reviewed: 24 March 2015

It doesn't take all that much aerobic exercise to accrue lots of fitness and health benefits. There are two physical activity recommendations to choose from in the United States. One is the Surgeon General's "lifestyle" recommendation, where you can accumulate activity and incorporate it into your day (a nice way to save time for busy people), and then there's the formal "workout" recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
If you're thinking that walking could be a good way of getting fit, losing weight or just keeping you healthy, then this book will tell you how to go about it. If you have already started walking and want to hone your power walking technique, or train for a specific goal (e.g. the London Moonwalk), then this book will tell you everything you need to know. But if you're more into hiking or country walks, then this is not for you.
The canon of walking literature has centred, almost entirely, on the infinite charms of an activity that nobody has ever tried to be good at. But the human body has charms of its own, and when its movements go from wrong to right, you recognise it like a melody. Maybe it’s possible to be dynamic and contemplative. Either way, there’s no looking back.
Getting blood pumping around your system and raising your heart rate provides a perfect workout for your heart and circulation system, and regular walks can even reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Through lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol) and increasing levels of its high-density alternative (HDL, the good cholesterol), you can keep your blood pressure in check. And by helping prevent and control high blood pressure you can reduce your risk of a stroke.
Walking is a low-cost and effective form of exercise. However, the wrong type of shoe or walking action can cause foot or shin pain, blisters and injuries to soft tissue. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, with appropriate heel and arch supports. Take light, easy steps and make sure your heel touches down before your toes. Whenever possible, walk on grass rather than concrete to help absorb the impact.
Improper digestion can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and even colon cancer. Therefore, it is very important that you keep your digestive system healthy. Apart from maintaining good food habits and drinking water, you should also walk to improve digestion. Walking after meals is great. It helps you reduce weight and also supports your digestive system (11) (12).
There are three phases to speeding up: start to use your toes in a more determined way, as if you’re kicking off the back wall of a swimming pool; then concentrate on your hip lift and hark, your glutes will propel you forward; finally, start to swing your arms, concentrating on the elbows – speeding up your arms will naturally make your walk faster.
"Oxygen consumption" describes the process of muscles extracting, or consuming, oxygen from the blood. Conditioned individuals have higher levels of oxygen consumption than deconditioned individuals ("couch potatoes") due to biological changes in the muscles from chronic exercise training. For example, a deconditioned individual might have a maximal oxygen consumption of 35 milliliters (ml) of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min), whereas an elite athlete may have a maximal oxygen consumption up to 92 ml/kg/min! Values like this are expressed as VO2 (volume of oxygen consumed) and can be measured with special equipment in a laboratory.
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Your local gym will provide a wide variety of aerobic options, such as treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes, stairmasters, rowing and ski machines so that you can just switch on and get started with your workout. It can be a good idea to diversify between different machines and different speeds/levels of resistance as your body can get used to a certain routine and after a number of sessions the same routine will not work your heart and lungs as much as it once did.
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7. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 1996. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/summary.htm
In normal daily activity, adults cover about 2-3 miles. About 2,000 steps equal a mile. To make walking a beneficial activity, you would need to come up with at least another 4,000 steps in a day. You can find ways to add steps here and there, such as walking farther from parking lots, taking stairs when available instead of escalators and elevators, walking the long way to get somewhere in your office building, walking your children to school, having a walk/talk meeting instead of sitting down in a conference room, or planning a short walk around the block as a break.
"Oxygen consumption" describes the process of muscles extracting, or consuming, oxygen from the blood. Conditioned individuals have higher levels of oxygen consumption than deconditioned individuals ("couch potatoes") due to biological changes in the muscles from chronic exercise training. For example, a deconditioned individual might have a maximal oxygen consumption of 35 milliliters (ml) of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min), whereas an elite athlete may have a maximal oxygen consumption up to 92 ml/kg/min! Values like this are expressed as VO2 (volume of oxygen consumed) and can be measured with special equipment in a laboratory.
Nina Barough is well known to power walkers in the UK. She founded the Walk the Walk Charity in 1999, and organises events, including The Moonwalk, a unique power walking marathon. The annual walk, which starts and ends in Battersea Park, London, attracted 15,000 walkers in 2003 and is in the process branching out worldwide. Nina lives in Finchampstead, Berkshire.

Observe basic safety while walking outside. Watch for traffic all around you. Always walk on sidewalks or on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Carry an ID and a cell phone or change for a pay phone. Use caution if wearing headphones (perhaps use just one earpiece so you can hear traffic and other noises around you). Make yourself visible in low-light situations by wearing reflective gear, such as vests with reflective tape are especially visible.
With everything else in place – your hips lifted, your neck long and straight – the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder should be liberated and your arms should shuffle themselves quite freely and intuitively into the right movement pattern. Except that it’s not quite that simple: if you want to use them as agents of acceleration, and you do, you have to use more deliberation. Move your arms across to the centre of your body and then quite far back.
Select an activity with a high probability that you will stick with it. It doesn't necessarily have to be fun, it just has to be something realistic that you are willing and able to do. You're probably setting yourself up to fail if you work 12 hours a day, take care of three young children, and still plan to use a treadmill at a gym that's a 45-minute commute from where you work or live. Instead, choose something more convenient. I love the "five minutes out, five minutes back" plan to get started. Just like it sounds, you walk out for five minutes at a moderate intensity (aerobic exercise), turn around, and walk back. That's it. Ten minutes of walking and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious, start with seven and a half or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some abdominal crunches if you like when you finish. Keep in mind that you can always add more later on. The important thing is to get started.
Recent research showed that wearing a fitness-tracking wristband (the FitBit One) did help overweight postmenopausal women increase their activity levels by nearly 40 minutes (and 789 steps) a week.2 Wearing a pedometer did not have such an effect. However, if you're committed to making your 10,000 steps a day, does that mean you're on your way to becoming physically fit?
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