Aerobic Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Aerobic Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Exercise is a lot more than an energy booster and a stress reliever. It also strengthens your heart muscle, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol, and burns calories. It can also improve your resting muscle tone and your mood.

Man in swimming pool, smiling.

Choose an aerobic activity

Choose an activity that makes your heart and lungs work harder than they do when you rest or walk normally. This aerobic exercise can improve the way your heart and other muscles use oxygen. Make it fun by exercising with a friend and choosing an activity you enjoy. Here are some ideas:

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Biking

  • Stair climbing

  • Dancing

  • Jogging

  • Gardening

Exercise regularly

If you haven’t been exercising regularly, get your healthcare provider’s OK first. Then start slowly.  Here are some tips:

  • Start exercising 3 times a week for 5 to 10  minutes at a time.

  • When you feel comfortable, add a few minutes each session.

  • Slowly build up to exercising 3 to 4 times each week. Each session should last for about 40 minutes. It should include moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. This helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Even if you can't meet this goal, moving more and sitting less still has health benefits. It is a good idea to spread out your aerobic activity during the week.

  • Your goal should be 1 of the following:
    • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week, for a total of 150 minutes.


    • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week, for a total of 75 minutes.
  • If you have been given nitroglycerin, always carry it when you exercise.

  • If you get chest pain (angina) when you’re exercising, stop what you’re doing. Take your nitroglycerin and call your healthcare provider.

Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD

Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN

Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019

© 2000-2019 StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Related Content


Patient Education