Updated 07 August 2015

What is aerobic or cardiovascular training?

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises or training is the corner stone of a fitness programme to improve fitness levels.


Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises or training is the corner stone of a fitness programme to improve fitness levels.

Examples of aerobic exercises include: walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, paddling, climbing stairs, spinning, running on a treadmill, stepping, dancing, kickboxing – any exercise that will increase your heartrate. Get fit either outdoors or in a gym. The choice is yours.

Get fit the way you’ll enjoy most
It is best to get fit in a way that you enjoy and like. No use choosing a cycling programme if you hate bicycles, or a swimming programme if you are hydrophobic, or a running programme if you just can’t stand the idea of jogging. But you’ll be amazed of what you may start enjoying as your fitness levels increase.

By starting off with walking, you may soon feel strong enough to start running even though you didn’t plan to be so adventurous. So be realistic and practical in choosing the right fitness programme, but a good self-challenge may lead to unexpected surprises.

For real benefit you need to exercise at least three times weekly, 20 – 45 minutes per session.

Keep your finger on the pulse
Train at a pace and intensity where your heartrate increases, but not exceeds, 70% - 75% of your theoretical maximum heart rate (TMHR).

Calculate your THMR as follows: 70 % x (225 minus your age).

A 35-year-old’s TMHR will be:
70/100 x (225 – 35)
= 70/100 x 190
= 133 – 142 (75 % will be 142)

Feel your pulse for 10 seconds. It’s easiest to feel it with two fingers in your neck – follow the arch of the trachea from the midline of your throat to either the left or right side of your neck. You’ll feel the beating pulse right where the arch of the trachea curves into the hollow “valley”. You should count 1/6th of your TMHR. For most people this will be approximately 17 –25 beats per 10 seconds.

How will you know that you’re getting fitter?

  • Your resting pulse rate (measured first thing in the morning after waking up) will start decreasing. By logging your resting pulse rate every morning, you will be able to observe your progress.
  • Your pace (time of aerobic exercise in minutes divided by the distance in km) will decrease. You will be able to exercise more and longer at a faster pace! Log your time and distance of aerobic exercise after every session.
  • You won’t be so out of breath when you go shopping, go hiking, or do every day chores.
  • You’ll feel better.

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