Aerobic Exercise: How (and Why) You Can Improve Your Stamina

Always be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask your health care provider what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

By definition, the word "stamina" means "staying power." And when it comes to health, who doesn't want that? Building up your endurance may make it easier to do the things you enjoy most, like spending a Saturday afternoon sprucing up the yard, taking the grandkids to the park, or going on a shopping spree with your pals—all without needing to take frequent breaks.

One way to build stamina is through regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking. Before you lace up your sneakers, check out this snapshot of the importance of aerobic activity.

What it is: Aerobic exercise is anything that increases your breathing and heart rate.

What it does: Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. It can help lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and certain cancers, and may make you feel better, sleep better, and be less stressed.

How and when: In general, adults should aim to do moderate-intensity activity (meaning you're breaking a sweat but still able to converse) for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week, or vigorous-intensity activity (you're working up a really good sweat) for 25 minutes, 3 days a week.

The good news is that you do not have to do the entire 25 or 30 minutes in 1 session to enjoy the benefits. For example, you can add up your activity by doing 3 sessions of 10 minutes or more. If you're new to exercise, work your way up from moderate to vigorous activities slowly to give your body time to adapt to the new challenges.

Real-life example: dancing. Dancing can burn calories, raise your breathing and heart rate, and it provides an opportunity for socializing. If you cannot go dancing every night, you can always supplement it with walking or swimming. For beginner dance classes near you—and classes for walking and swimming, for that matter—check with the local YMCA.


  • You should work with your health care provider to determine what level of activity is right for you.
  • Click on the following links for information on flexibility, strength training, and balance activities.
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