Aerobic activities are the most important physical activities for improving your cardiovascular health. These activities are good for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. They raise your heart rate and make you breathe deeply. They make you feel warm. They help you to increase your energy and keep moving for longer periods of time.  To get the best health benefits, try to do endurance activities for at least 10-15 minutes at a time. If you can’t do 10-15 minutes when you start out, do what you can and work up to it. Begin with an activity that you can do comfortably. Try three times a week and progress to four to five times a week.

Choose aerobic activities that match your health and lifestyle goals.

Here are some activities to choose from:  walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, cross-country skiing, hiking, etc. Once you start you may surprise yourself by how quickly you feel the positive effects! Your doctor may prescribe a certain level of exertion for you to build up to, based on your health goals and specific concerns. When you feel comfortable, slowly increase the intensity of your activities.

Levels of Intensity of Effort
Level Intensity of Effort Walking Pace
0 Nothing Standing
0.5 Very, very weak effort Very, very easy pace
1 Very weak effort Very easy pace (slow walk)
2 Weak effort Somewhat easy pace
3 Moderate effort – can walk and talk and sing a song! Somewhat hard pace (fast walk)
4 Somewhat strong effort Hard pace (as fast walk pumping arms back ad forth to increase pace)
5 Strong effort – Can’t talk in sentences, only a few words at a time. Somewhat harder pace (as fast as you can walk on flat ground, pumping arms back and forth to increase pace)
6 Stronger effort Very hard pace (fast walk up a gentle slope)
7 Very strong effort Very hard pace (fast walk up a steep hill)
8 -9 Can’t talk in sentences, only a few words at a time. Very, very hard pace (fast walk up stairs)

Very, very strong effort
Maximum effort

 As hard as you can go!

The numbers on the left are simply a way of describing, on a scale of one to ten, how hard you feel you are working. For aerobic activities, you should gradually work your way up to a level of 4-5. At this level you should feel that you are working at a somewhat hard pace. Some people might feel this level of intensity when they are walking quickly on flat ground while others might feel this level only when they are jogging. Both are right – only you know how much you are exerting yourself.