Frequency of Training
Three to five days per week is optimal. Training two or less days per week usually does not cause an increase in aerobic fitness. Training more than five days per week results in only a small increase in aerobic capacity when compared to three to five days per week.
Intensity of Training
The heart rate is a very good indicator of how hard a person is working. The minimum training intensity threshold for improvement in aerobic endurance is about 60% of the maximal heart rate.
The heart rate can be measured easily at the wrist or at the neck. At the wrist, place the first two fingers just below the base of the thumb on the inside of the wrist. At the neck, place the first two fingers on either side of the neck, approximately straight down from the outer corner of the lips. In order to measure the exercise heart rate, slow down exercising and immediately find your pulse at either the wrist or the neck. Count the number of beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six. The heart rate slows down quickly after stopping exercise, so do not take a 15 second or 1 minute count.
The level of fitness at the beginning of this program is important. A beginner will probably need to exercise at a lower intensity (60% vs. 85%) of maximum heart rate to be able to continue over the necessary minimum length of time.
Duration of Training
Twenty to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity is recommended. Activities of lower intensity should be conducted over longer periods of time. The total amount of work done in a work‑out is an important factor in developing and maintaining fitness.
Activities performed at a lower intensity over a longer period of time may be as effective as performing the activity at a higher intensity and shorter duration. For example, walking briskly three miles in 42 minutes may be as effective at building aerobic endurance as running two miles in 20 minutes.
Mode of Activity
Activities that use large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and are rhythmical and aerobic in nature are recommended. These activities include walking, running, bicycling, cross‑country skiing, dancing, rope skipping, rowing, stair climbing, swimming, skating, and other endurance games. Activities that require running and jumping generally cause more injuries than do low impact and non‑weight bearing types of activities.
The aerobic exercise session should have a 5‑10 minute warm‑up. The purpose of the warm‑up is to gradually increase the heart rate. The actual aerobic training session should last 20‑60 minutes, during which the heart rate should be elevated into the training zone. Following this should be a 5‑10 minute cool down which allows the body and heart rate to return to normal. The cool down also may prevent dizziness, fainting, or nausea.