Aerobic exercise is used to improve heart and lung function and raise the healthy cholesterol. Any exercise that gets the heart beating faster for a sustained period is aerobic exercise. Doctors used to recommend a formula for determining the ideal heart rate during exercise: Subtract your age from 220, and your ideal heart rate is 60 to 75 percent of that number. Now we know that many people can sustain aerobic exercise at higher heart rates. Perhaps the best way to know whether you’re meeting your exercise goals is to rank the exercise as follows: very, very light; very light; fairly light; somewhat hard; very hard; and very, very hard. If you stay at the level of somewhat hard while you get into shape, you’re doing the right amount of aerobic exercise. You should sustain aerobic exercise for 20 to 30 minutes every day. By doing this, despite the normal loss of exercise capacity with aging, you’re maximizing what you have and adding significant time to your life. One way of insuring that you get enough exercise is to get yourself a pedometer, a little device you wear on your belt that counts your steps. If you count your daily steps for a week, you likely find that you average around 3,000 to 4,000 a day. Your ultimate goal is to average 10,000 steps a day, and you can achieve this rapidly or more slowly. Setting some athletic event in the future as your reason for building up your walking ability is often a good idea. That gives you a goal to work toward and permits you to compare your time over the years to see how fit you’re becoming (or not).
Anaerobic exercise Don’t forget to do muscle strengthening anaerobic exercises as well. Anaerobic exercise strengthens muscles and increases stamina. Using light weights of 10 to 15 pounds, three times a week, you want to do at least three or four different exercises to work your arms and legs and strengthen your back. I recommend the following exercises for strengthening your muscles: Bicep curls Shoulder presses Lateral raises Bent-over rowing Good mornings Flys Pullovers You can find the details for performing these exercises in my book Diabetes For Dummies, 2nd