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    Consumer Health: 10 ways aerobic exercise can help you live longer and healthier

a smiling middle-aged couple on bicycles

well-rounded fitness routine contains several elements, including strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching. The fifth element is aerobic fitness.

Aerobic activity causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body.

Aerobic activity includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate, including walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing and water aerobics.

Regardless of your age, weight or athletic ability, regular aerobic activity is good for you, as it can help you:

  • Keep excess pounds at bay.
  • Increase your stamina, fitness and strength.
  • Ward off viral illnesses.
  • Reduce your health risks.
  • Manage chronic conditions.
  • Strengthen your heart.
  • Keep your arteries clear.
  • Boost your mood.
  • Stay active and independent as you age.
  • Live longer.

Healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity. That doesn't have to be all at one time, though. For example, brisk walking for 30 minutes, five days a week meets the guidelines. Aerobic exercise can even be performed in short blocks of time, such as several walk breaks spread throughout the day. You'll get the most from your workouts if you're exercising at the proper exercise intensity for your health and fitness goals.

Connect with others, share your progress and get encouragement in the Healthy Living group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

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