Physical Activity Basics

Aerobic Activity

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, heart-pumping cardio is the name of the game. Aerobic activity is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing harder. The term “intensity” refers to how much energy your body exerts during the activity. An easy way to measure aerobic intensity is with the Talk Test.


Moderate-intensity: You’re able to talk, but not sing, during the activity.

Vigorous-intensity: You can’t say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Moderate Intensity

  • Walking briskly or fast
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower
  • Water aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Gardening

Vigorous Intensity

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike fast or on hills
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Playing basketball
  • Race walking
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)

Pace Yourself

Whenever beginning a new exercise routine, the key is to increase your activity level slowly. You need to feel comfortable doing moderate-intensity activities before you move on to more vigorous ones. Slowly replace those that take moderate effort, like brisk walking, with more strenuous exercises, like jogging.

Strength Training

Strength training is equally as important as cardio activity. To get the most out of muscle-strengthening exercise, each set should be performed to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition without help. One set of 8-12 repetitions is effective, although 2-3 sets may produce better results.

You can do muscle-strengthening activities on the same day as your cardio exercise, or alternate days. Just keep in mind that strength training doesn’t count toward your aerobic activity.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it’s at home or the gym:

  • Lift weights
  • Work with resistance bands
  • Do exercises that use your bodyweight for resistance (e.g., push-ups, sit-ups)
  • Heavy gardening (e.g., digging, shoveling)
  • Yoga
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