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Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activity

Aerobic fitness means increasing how well the body uses oxygen, which depends on the condition of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Experts tend to describe aerobic activity in three ways: light, moderate, and vigorous.

When people do vigorous-intensity activities, they breathe faster and have a much faster heartbeat than at rest. To get the benefits of vigorous activity, a person can:

  • Jog or run.
  • Cycle fast (at least 12 miles per hour [mph]).
  • Hike.
  • Play soccer.
  • Cross-country ski.
  • Swim moderately to hard.
  • Play a game of basketball or volleyball.
  • Carry heavy loads, such as bricks.

The goal of aerobic fitness is to increase the amount of oxygen that goes to the heart and muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activities, including many kinds of daily activities, that raise the heart rate and keep it up for an extended period of time can improve aerobic fitness. If the activities are done regularly and long enough, they can help improve fitness.

Experts recommend that adults try to do vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. Or they can do moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. People can choose to do one or both types of activity. And it's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout the day and week. Teens and children (starting at age 6) should do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.

It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
Last Revised October 25, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.