One of the main reasons to exercise is to strengthen your heart. Aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular (heart) fitness by increasing your ability to use oxygen. It increases your heart’s capacity to deliver blood (along with oxygen) to your muscles. As you exercise regularly and your heart gets stronger, it increases in size the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles), which means that your heart doesn’t have to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is evident in a slower resting heart rate, and a slower heart rate as you perform the same exercise at the same level of intensity.

As your body becomes more fit, the exercise you do will become easier, and you will be able to engage in the same activities for increased lengths of time. This is referred to as muscular endurance. The more your muscles can move, the stronger you will get and the more efficient your body becomes at burning off calories, thereby losing weight.

Using Daily Life as Exercise

There are a number of ways you can get some aerobic exercise while performing your activities of daily living. Here are some suggestions for gradually increasing your aerobic capacity:

  • March in place
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Clean your house
  • Do some gardening/yard work
  • Use the stairs instead of elevator or escalator
  • Park your car several blocks from your destination and walk
  • Take nature hikes
  • Walk around a museum, art gallery or mall
  • Don’t use the remote control; get up to change the channels