What is the Best Type of Aerobic Exercise

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By: Dr. Gordon Blackburn
Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation Program

There is no one best exercise for everyone. The benefits to your heart are similar as long as the type of exercise satisfies some basic requirements and you follow the recommended program goals, as prescribed by your doctor or exercise physiologist.

Your aerobic exercise program should have four goals:

  1. It is aerobic. It uses large muscle groups repetitively for a sustained amount of time
  2. You perform it for 30 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week
  3. It meets the cardiovascular goals your doctor or exercise physiologist has prescribed for you
  4. It is something you will enjoy doing for an extended period of time

Safety First!

The type of exercise you choose is a personal decision, but you should take certain factors into consideration to reduce the risk of injury or complications and make exercise more enjoyable.

  • Always speak to your doctor first before starting any new exercise program
  • Chose a type of exercise you are more likely to stay with over the long-term
  • Perform your activity at a level in which you can carry on a conversation or speak clearly while exercising. This "talk test" provides a general rule of thumb to help you determine if a particular activity is too strenuous for you. It is especially helpful if you have not been given a "heart rate (pulse) zone" to stay in during exercise.

Exercise Options

Let's look at some of the common types of aerobic exercise. See which one is best suited for you.

To make an appointment with an exercise specialist or to join a cardiac rehabilitation program, contact Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology - 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353.

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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