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How to Start Being Active

Aerobic Training

​​​​Are you thinking about getting more exercise or really getting into fitness training? Good for you. Think about trying aerobic training.

There are 3 parts of fitness training, which are all part of a well-rounded fitness program:

  • aerobic training
  • strength training
  • flexibility training

Think About Your Fitness Goals

  • Before you start new activities or a fitness plan, take time to think about your level of health and fitness. Think about goals that are easy to reach, and then build on your success.
  • It’s a good idea to see your doctor before you start an exercise program. This is really important if you have a health problem or if you haven’t exercised for a long time.
  • Getting fit isn’t about rushing or pushing yourself too hard, too soon. It’s about adding fitness activities to your lifestyle in ways that work best for you, at a pace that’s right for you.

What are the benefits of aerobic training?

Aerobic training is doing activities that usually involve large muscle groups like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. It’s a great way to burn calories, help your blood flow, and exercise your heart.

Aerobic training makes the heart beat faster, which is a good workout. It also has these benefits:

  • makes the heart stronger and better at pumping blood
  • lowers fat and cholesterol levels
  • lowers blood pressure

Doing regular aerobic training or activities may also help you manage your weight or lose weight. Aerobics can also help prevent or manage health problems like diabetes.

Getting Started With Aerobic Training

Many people enjoy aerobic training. Aerobics can be fun on your own or with others. On your own, it’s a time to focus on your physical and mental health. With others, it’s a great way to spend time and connect with friends and family.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • pick activities that you’re comfortable doing like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, squash, badminton, or team sports (e.g., hockey, volleyball)
  • walking is one of the best ways to get started—just make sure to wear supportive shoes and walk often
  • join a fitness or exercise program at school, a community centre, or a fitness club in your area
  • get involved in fitness or exercise programs at work or nearby (e.g., lunch hour walking groups, workplace fitness facilities)

Go Slow and Build Up Your Energy

It’s important to start any exercise program slowly. Pick a pace and time that you’re comfortable with. Do what feels right for you. You can:

  • start with a 5 or ​10-minute walk every day or a few times a week—as you build up more energy, take more than 1 short walk a day, or walk longer each time
  • go for longer walks (e.g., walk 30 or 45 minutes a day, walk 4 to 5 times a week​)
  • take a long walk one day, and a shorter one the next day
  • do different activities during the week (e.g., go for a long walk, go for 2 or 3 bike rides, and go to a swim class or play a team sport)

Be Ready for the Challenge

For many people, regular exercise is hard to do. Lots of people get off to a great start for a few weeks or months, but they slowly lose the motivation to keep going. Be successful at keeping a regular exercise routine by making sure you don’t overdo it early.

When You Feel Ready to Do More

When you feel ready, do more aerobic activity. Here are some ways to make steady progress with your fitness plan.

  • When you’ve reached a certain level, (e.g., increasing your daily walk from 15 to 25 minutes), challenge yourself by walking faster or going for longer walks (e.g., 35 or 45 minutes).
  • For beginners, it’s best to do longer training sessions (more time or distance) first, and then increase the intensity. If you start with a 10-minute activity, increase the time in 10-minute increments (e.g., increase to 20 minutes, and then 30).
  • Increasing your intensity means working harder and/or moving faster. If on a treadmill, increase the incline. If cycling outside, go faster. If on a stationary bike, slowly increase the resistance setting.
  • To get the most health benefits from exercise, try to do 150 minutes a week (e.g., 30 minutes, 5 days a week).

Take time to feel good about yourself every time you exercise. If it takes a while to get to 150 minutes a week, that’s okay.

Things to Think about Before You Start

  • If you don’t know how to do an exercise or activity, talk to a certified exercise professional.
  • If you’re not sure where to go or what to do, ask friends, family, or co-workers. Choose a couple of activities you like doing and you’ll be more likely to keep exercising and reach your goals.
  • You can do aerobic training anywhere. You can even do a workout in your home with music or a fitness video.
  • If you have a day when you don’t feel like exercising, stay active by doing chores, yard work, or go dancing with friends.

How will my body feel after aerobic exercise?

You can expect your body to feel different during and after any aerobic activity.

During an Activity

  • Depending on your pace, you may feel different.
  • As you work harder, you may feel warm, sweat, and breathe heavier. You’ll be able to talk, but it won’t be as easy as when you’re sitting down. If you notice these changes, you’re likely getting good benefits from exercise.
  • Your muscles may feel tired or stiff, especially towards the end of your workout. If you get muscle cramps, feel short of breath, can’t talk, or feel light-headed, slow down or take a break.

After an Activity

  • You may feel different after activity. You should feel good, proud, and/or have more energy.
  • Activity is good for managing stress and it may help you sleep better.
  • If you push yourself hard during a workout, you may feel tired and your muscles may be tired or feel tight. This is normal. It’s a good idea to stretch muscles that feel tight.

The Day after an Activity

  • Most people won’t feel much different the day after doing an activity that’s part of their routine. However, if you worked really hard during an activity (e.g., climbing stairs), your muscles may be tender and it can last 1 or 2 days. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it’s normal.
  • Aerobic exercise is good for everyone. Plan ahead so you have the time you need to exercise.

Current as of: October 24, 2018

Author: Health Promotion, Alberta Health Services