10 Aerobic Exercises to Add to Your Routine for Improved Longevity

In a nutshell

Are you curious about the duration of aerobic activity you should engage in to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of mortality?

Look no further! In this article, we’ll discuss 10 different aerobic exercises you can add to your routine and explore the optimal duration and intensity of each exercise to reap the most benefits. From walking and swimming to cycling and HIIT, there are plenty of options to choose from. So, let’s dive in and discover how aerobic exercise can contribute to improved longevity.

Staying active and incorporating exercise into your daily routine is essential for maintaining good health and longevity. Regular aerobic exercise has numerous health benefits. It can help improve your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. However, with so many different types of aerobic exercises to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to incorporate into your routine.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in either 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or 75 to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. So, let’s dive into 10 different aerobic activities that you can add to your daily life to reap the most health benefits.

1. Walking

Walking is a low-impact exercise that is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. It requires no special equipment and can be done almost anywhere, making it a popular choice for people of all ages and fitness levels. The health benefits of walking are numerous, including improved cardiovascular health, increased bone density, and reduced stress levels.

Recently published data in the Journal Lancet showed that adults who took more steps per day had a lower mortality risk than those who took fewer steps. Specifically, adults in the highest quartile (the group that took the most steps) had a 40% to 53% lower mortality risk than those in the lowest quartile.1 Paluch AE, Bajpai S, Bassett DR, Carnethon MR, Ekelund U, Evenson KR, Galuska DA, Jefferis BJ, Kraus WE, Lee IM, Matthews CE, Omura JD, Patel AV, Pieper CF, Rees-Punia E, Dallmeier D, Klenk J, Whincup PH, Dooley EE, Pettee Gabriel K, Palta P, Pompeii LA, Chernofsky A, Larson MG, Vasan RS, Spartano N, Ballin M, Nordström P, Nordström A, Anderssen SA, Hansen BH, Cochrane JA, Dwyer T, Wang J, Ferrucci L, Liu F, Schrack J, Urbanek J, Saint-Maurice PF, Yamamoto N, Yoshitake Y, Newton RL Jr, Yang S, Shiroma EJ, Fulton JE; Steps for Health Collaborative. Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts. Lancet Public Health. 2022 Mar;7(3):e219-e228. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00302-9. PMID: 35247352; PMCID: PMC9289978. PubMed Source

Typically walking 6000-8000 steps per day for older adults (over 60 years old) leads to the biggest decline in the risk of mortality, younger adults can benefit from a step count of 8000-10000 steps per day.

To get started with walking, all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a safe place to walk. Try incorporating walking into your daily routine by walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going for a walk after dinner. You can also make walking more enjoyable by listening to music or podcasts or by walking with a friend or family member.

Start with short distances and gradually increase your distance and intensity over time. You can also try incorporating different variations of walking, such as power walking or hill walking, to challenge yourself and add variety to your routine.

2. Jogging

Jogging is another form of aerobic exercise that can provide various health benefits and contribute to longevity. Regular jogging can help improve cardiovascular health, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.

The research showed that compared to sedentary individuals, regular joggers had a 44% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality. The optimal frequency, duration, and intensity of jogging for reducing mortality risk are 1- 2.4 hours per week at a moderate pace.2Schnohr P, O’Keefe JH, Marott JL, Lange P, Jensen GB. Dose of jogging and long-term mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Feb 10;65(5):411-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.11.023. PMID: 25660917. PubMed Source However, even 5-10 minutes per day (30-60 mins per week) and slow speeds <6 mph are associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.3 Lee DC, Pate RR, Lavie CJ, Sui X, Church TS, Blair SN. Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Aug 5;64(5):472-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058. Erratum in: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Oct 7;64(14):1537. PMID: 25082581; PMCID: PMC4131752. PubMed Source

Begin with a light jog or even a brisk walk, gradually increasing the pace and distance over time. Don’t push yourself too hard or too fast, as this can lead to injury or burnout. Jog at a pace that is comfortable for you, focusing on maintaining good form and breathing deeply.

3. Swimming

Swimming is a full-body workout with numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength and endurance, and reduced stress levels. It is also a low-impact exercise, making it a great option for people with joint pain or other injuries.

The research found that swimming is associated with improved cardiovascular health and reduced mortality risk. One study showed that swimmers had a 50% lower risk of all-cause mortality risk than non-swimmers. This was a higher reduction compared to walking or running.4Chase, Nancy L.; Sui, Xuemei; and Blair, Steven N. (2008) “Swimming and All-Cause Mortality Risk Compared With Running, Walking, and Sedentary Habits in Men,” International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 2: No. 3, Article 3.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25035/ijare.02.03.03 Source

Look for a local pool or open water location and schedule regular swim sessions into your weekly routine. You can also try incorporating different strokes and techniques to add variety to your workout. There are several different swimming strokes to choose from, including freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. Each stroke targets different muscle groups and provides a unique workout.

4. Cycling

Cycling is a great way to improve cardiovascular health, build leg muscles, and burn calories. There are both outdoor and indoor cycling options, making it a versatile exercise that can be done year-round.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular health and reduced mortality risk. The study found that cycling for at least 20 miles per week was associated with a 50% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to non-cyclists. And cycling for at least 30 minutes per day was associated with a 40% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to non-cyclists.5Celis-Morales CA, Lyall DM, Welsh P, Anderson J, Steell L, Guo Y, Maldonado R, Mackay DF, Pell JP, Sattar N, Gill JMR. Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2017 Apr 19;357:j1456. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1456. PMID: 28424154. PubMed Source

To start cycling, you will need a bike and a safe place to ride. If you have a bike, try cycling to work or running errands instead of driving. You can also look for local cycling groups or join a cycling class at a gym to make cycling more social and enjoyable.

5. Dancing

Dancing is a fun and social aerobic exercise that can be done alone or with a partner. It provides numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle tone and flexibility, and reduced stress levels.

According to research, dancers experience a significant 76% decrease in the risk of developing dementia compared to non-dancers. Not only that, but dancing is also linked to improved cardiovascular health and lower mortality risk. Aim for at least 30 minutes of dancing per day to reap the benefits, which is associated with a 50% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to non-dancers..6 Verghese J, Lipton RB, Katz MJ, Hall CB, Derby CA, Kuslansky G, Ambrose AF, Sliwinski M, Buschke H. Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. N Engl J Med. 2003 Jun 19;348(25):2508-16. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa022252. PMID: 12815136. PubMed Source

Look for local dance classes or online resources and try different dance styles and genres to find what you enjoy most. There are many different types of dance styles and genres to choose from, including ballroom, hip-hop, salsa, and Zumba. You can also try dancing at home or with friends for a fun and social workout.

6. Jump Rope

Jump rope is a high-intensity aerobic exercise that can be done almost anywhere. It provides numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, bone density, coordination, and balance.

Jump rope is associated with improved cardiovascular health and, as a result of this, a reduced mortality risk.7 Tang Z, Ming Y, Wu M, Jing J, Xu S, Li H, Zhu Y. Effects of Caloric Restriction and Rope-Skipping Exercise on Cardiometabolic Health: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial in Young Adults. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 16;13(9):3222. doi: 10.3390/nu13093222. PMID: 34579097; PMCID: PMC8467906. PubMed Source 8 Veena Kirthika. S, Lakshmanan. R, Padmanabhan. K, Selvaraj Sudhakar, Senthil Selvam. P. The Effect of Skipping rope Exercise on Physical and Cardiovascular fitness among Collegiate Males. Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2019; 12(10):4831-4835. doi: 10.5958/0974-360X.2019.00836.9 Source You can benefit from doing jump rope for as little as 10 minutes daily.

To get started with jump rope, you will need a jump rope and a safe place to jump. You can also try incorporating jump rope workouts into your daily routine, such as doing a few minutes of jump rope before or after your regular workout. Start with basic techniques such as single jumps and gradually progress to more advanced techniques such as double unders and crossovers.

7. Rowing

Rowing is a full-body aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular health, increases muscle strength and endurance, and reduces stress levels. It can be done on an indoor rowing machine or on the water in a rowing boat.

It is known that French Olympic rowers have a lower chance of dying than the general population of France. And they are less likely to die from heart disease than other French people.9 Antero-Jacquemin J, Desgorces FD, Dor F, Sedeaud A, Haïda A, LeVan P, Toussaint JF. Row for your life: a century of mortality follow-up of French olympic rowers. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 17;9(11):e113362. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113362. PMID: 25402483; PMCID: PMC4234656. PubMed Source Although the exact mechanism of this is still not clear, it is obvious that rowing increases cardiovascular endurance and can potentially improve longevity.

You will need access to an indoor rowing machine or a local rowing club to start rowing. Make sure to learn proper rowing techniques to avoid injury and maximize the benefits of this exercise..

8. Hiking

Hiking is a great example of aerobic exercise and a way to enjoy nature outdoors while improving cardiovascular health, bone density, and muscle strength.

As well as walking, hiking can significantly reduce the mortality risk. 10 Hamer M, Chida Y. Walking and primary prevention: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Br J Sports Med. 2008 Apr;42(4):238-43. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.039974. Epub 2007 Nov 29. PMID: 18048441. PubMed Source Although hiking is a form of walking, it provides additional health benefits due to exposure to nature and varying terrains. Hiking improves mental health and reduces stress levels, and it might be more efficient in combating high blood pressure.11 Muro A, Mateo C, Parrado E, Subirana-Malaret M, Moya M, Garriga A, Canals J, Chamarro A, Sanz A. Forest bathing and hiking benefits for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mediterranean regions. Eur J For Res. 2023;142(2):415-426. doi: 10.1007/s10342-023-01531-6. Epub 2023 Feb 3. PMID: 36779181; PMCID: PMC9896453. PubMed Source 12Tsao TM, Hwang JS, Lin ST, Wu C, Tsai MJ, Su TC. Forest Bathing Is Better than Walking in Urban Park: Comparison of Cardiac and Vascular Function between Urban and Forest Parks. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Mar 15;19(6):3451. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19063451. PMID: 35329139; PMCID: PMC8949865. PubMed Source

Look for local hiking trails and schedule regular hikes in your weekly routine. Make sure to prepare properly by wearing appropriate clothing and shoes, bringing water and snacks, and familiarizing yourself with the trail beforehand.


High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of aerobic exercise involving short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest or low-intensity exercise. HIIT can effectively improve cardiovascular health, increase muscular strength and endurance, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Existing literature on the effects of HIIT on cardiometabolic health and mortality risk shows that HIIT is associated with improvements in cardiovascular fitness and reductions in mortality risk in various populations, including patients with coronary artery disease and older adults.13 Batacan RB Jr, Duncan MJ, Dalbo VJ, Tucker PS, Fenning AS. Effects of high-intensity interval training on cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Mar;51(6):494-503. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095841. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PMID: 27797726. PubMed Source 14 Stensvold D, Viken H, Steinshamn SL, Dalen H, Støylen A, Loennechen JP, Reitlo LS, Zisko N, Bækkerud FH, Tari AR, Sandbakk SB, Carlsen T, Ingebrigtsen JE, Lydersen S, Mattsson E, Anderssen SA, Fiatarone Singh MA, Coombes JS, Skogvoll E, Vatten LJ, Helbostad JL, Rognmo Ø, Wisløff U. Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults-the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2020 Oct 7;371:m3485. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m3485. PMID: 33028588; PMCID: PMC7539760. PubMed Source

To incorporate HIIT into your routine, consider designing a workout with various aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, or jumping jacks. You can alternate between high-intensity exercise and rest periods, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of each interval over time. It’s important to warm up before starting a HIIT workout and cool down properly afterward to reduce the risk of injury.

10. Group Fitness Classes

Group fitness classes are a fun and social way to incorporate aerobic exercise into your routine. Various classes are available, including Zumba, aerobics, spinning, and more. Attending group fitness classes can provide many benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscular strength and endurance, and reduced stress. This type of aerobic exercise is a great way to combat social isolation and loneliness.[/mfn] Sebastião E, Mirda D. Group-based physical activity as a means to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2021 Jul;33(7):2003-2006. doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01722-w. Epub 2021 Jan 2. PMID: 33387363. PubMed Source [/mfn]

Participation in group fitness classes is associated with improved physical function, mainly cardiovascular health, psychological and social well-being.15 Komatsu H, Yagasaki K, Saito Y, Oguma Y. Regular group exercise contributes to balanced health in older adults in Japan: a qualitative study. BMC Geriatr. 2017 Aug 22;17(1):190. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3. PMID: 28830443; PMCID: PMC5567431. PubMed Source 16 Baez M, Khaghani Far I, Ibarra F, Ferron M, Didino D, Casati F. Effects of online group exercises for older adults on physical, psychological and social wellbeing: a randomized pilot trial. PeerJ. 2017 Apr 5;5:e3150. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3150. PMID: 28392983; PMCID: PMC5384569. PubMed Source

To find a group fitness class that’s right for you, consider your fitness level, goals, and interests. Many gyms and fitness studios offer a variety of classes, so don’t be afraid to try a few different types to find your favorite. You can also search online for virtual or outdoor group fitness classes. Try to invite friends or family members to join you for a fun and social workout.

Recap and final thoughts

Incorporating various aerobic exercises into your routine can provide numerous health benefits and contribute to longevity. Whether you enjoy walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, jump rope, rowing, hiking, group fitness classes, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), there are many options to choose from.

By finding activities that you enjoy and incorporating them into your routine, you can improve your cardiovascular health, increase muscular strength and endurance, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. So don’t be afraid to try new activities and find your favorites for a happier, healthier life!


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