Cardio exercise was once more commonly known as aerobic exercise. It is an activity that increases your heart rate and keeps it up while you workout. Cardio along with strength training and stretching can help you stay active and healthy throughout your life. Here are some cardio basics:
There is strong evidence that regular cardio exercise can:
There are many forms of cardio exercise. Look for activity that uses large muscle groups like those in your legs. It can be indoor or outdoor, machines or just you. Examples include:
It is likely safe to start a light exercise program. Check with your doctor if you have had recent injuries, chronic illness, or heart problems. Most often they will support exercise but may have some things to look out for.
Look for exercise that you may enjoy. Consider help to get started. Trainers, gyms, online or in person classes can help. They can show you how to do things safely. They can also give you motivation.
Start slowly and build up as you feel able. Cardio exercise goals from US Health and Human Services include:
**Moderate level you should be able to talk during the workout. Vigorous level you can't say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
Older adults should follow the same plan but keep in mind:
Children and adolescents have the following key guidelines regarding aerobic activity:
Tips for getting started:
American College of Sports Medicine
American Council on Exercise
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2020.
Physical activity and health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html. Accessed July 15, 2020.
Last reviewed July 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 7/15/2020