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Participating in regular cardiorespiratory exercise is an excellent way to improve your health. Regular exercise can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, lose weight, improve your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of many types of cancer. Knowing what types of exercise and how often and intensely you need to do them are the keys to improving your health.
Cardiorespiratory exercises are the types that get the big muscles of the body moving, such as running, swimming, cycling or walking. These types of exercises work your arm, leg and heart muscles and help them to become stronger and more efficient. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 150-minutes of moderate cardiorespiratory exercise each week. You can break this up in any way that fits your schedule, from several 10-minute walks a day to a 60-minute indoor cycling class a few times per week. To get the maximum health benefits out of your training program, aim to exercise in your aerobic target zone.
Target Heart Zone
To determine your target zone, first calculate your maximum heart rate by using the following formula: maximum heart rate = 220 - your age in years. Calculate 60 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate to determine your target zone. Beginning exercisers should strive to stay at the lower end of the range, while more advanced exercisers may work at the higher end.
Using your maximum heart rate to determine your target zone is effective, but several other factors may influence your heart rate. Caffeine, medications, stress, air temperature and genetics all play a roll. Beginning exercisers should note their heart rate during a particular activity and how it changes throughout a workout. If your resting heart rate is naturally very low, you may find it hard to reach the higher end of your target zone during exercise. Or, you may find that a cup of coffee before a workout pushes your heart rate up higher than it would be on a day without coffee. Keeping a log of your heart rate and perceived exertion during exercise will help you fine tune your target training zone over time.
Use the formulas for determining your target zone but listen to your body to provide you the most insight into how hard you should work. Start slowly and build gradually to fully reap the benefits that cardiorespiratory exercise will provide. Consult with your physician or health care provider before starting a new exercise routine. If you feel pain, dizziness -- or you find your heart pumping well above your maximum heart rate -- stop and seek medical attention if necessary.