I recently took the Adult Fitness Test outlined in the President's Fitness Challenge. The test is broken down into 3 sections: Aerobic Fitness, Muscular Strength and Flexibility, and you are scored as a percentile of normative data.
I found my results to be somewhat surprising: I was in the top 10% for muscular strength(!! /flex) but the bottom 5% for aerobic fitness. My flexibility score was about average.
I was specifically concerned that my aerobic score was SO low. I knew my cardio health needs improvement, but wow! I was coming down with a cold at the time that I took the test, but I don't think that would have affected my score that much.
The aerobic test is walk 1 mile at a brisk pace, or run 1.5 miles, and then measure your heart rate. My legs are a bit short, so my 1 mile walk was 19 minutes, and my heart rate was at 120.
I've been taking martial arts for nearly two years now, and about half the classes I take get my heart rate up and keep it up. I have noticed a marked improvement in my endurance, particularly in fighting; I'm able to sustain a fight for far longer than I did at the outset.
I am usually in class 5 days a week, so I don't have much time to add more to my exercise regimen. What can I do to most effectively increase my cardio health?