Aerobic Exercise

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Aerobic exercise refers to exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body. Aerobic means “with oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen in the body’s metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time. To obtain the best results, an aerobic exercise session involves a warming up period, followed by at least 20 minutes of moderate to intense exercise involving large muscle groups, and a cooling down period at the end.


Aerobic exercise is “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It is a type of exercise that overloads the heart and lungs and causes them to work harder than at rest. The important idea behind aerobic exercise today, is to get up and get moving!! There are more activities than ever to choose from, whether it is a new activity or an old one. Find something you enjoy doing that keeps your heart rate elevated for a continuous time period and get moving to a healthier life.

Aerobic exercise is continuous rhythmic use of large muscle groups in a weight-bearing manner at sufficient frequency, distance and intensity. Aerobics are the only exercise that changes metabolism and chemistry in enough ways to bring about a wide range of health gains. Examples include: running, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, skating, aerobic walking, swimming, cycling and a few others. Frequency is three to four times a week. Distance, most easily measured in time, is 40 to 50 minutes. As to intensity, the workout must feel like a workout –( low- mod intensity) or 12 to 15 on the Borg scale of perceived exertion. If you are just starting an exercise program, you should begin with a shorter time and lower intensity, gradually working up to target levels

Both the term and the specific exercise method were developed by Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., an exercise physiologist, and Col. Pauline Potts, a physical therapist, both of the Air Force. Dr. Cooper, an avowed exercise enthusiast, was personally and professionally puzzled about why some people with excellent muscular strength were still prone to poor performance at tasks such as long-distance running, swimming, and bicycling. He began measuring systematic human performance using a bicycle ergometer, and began measuring sustained performance in terms of the ability to utilize oxygen.

His groundbreaking book, Aerobics, was published in 1968, and included scientific exercise programs using running, walking, swimming and bicycling. The book came at a fortuitous historical moment, when increasing weakness and inactivity in the general population was causing a perceived need for increased exercise. It became a best seller.

Cooper’s data provided the scientific baseline for almost all modern aerobics programs, most of which are based on oxygen-consumption equivalency.

Aerobic versus anaerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise and fitness can be contrasted with anaerobic exercise, of which strength training and weight training are the most salient examples. The two types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle. Initially during aerobic exercise, glycogen is broken down to produce glucose, but in its absence, fat metabolism is initiated instead. The latter is a slow process, and is accompanied by a decline in performance level. The switch to fat as fuel is a major cause of what marathon runners call “hitting the wall”. Anaerobic exercise, in contrast, refers to the initial phase of exercise, or any short burst of intense exertion, in which the glycogen or sugar is consumed without oxygen, and is a far less efficient process. Operating anaerobically, an untrained 400 meter sprinter may “hit the wall” short of the full distance.


Aerobic exercise comprises innumerable forms. In general, it is performed at a moderate level of intensity over a relatively long period of time. For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not. Playing singles tennis, with near-continuous motion, is generally considered aerobic activity, while golf or doubles tennis, with brief bursts of activity punctuated by more frequent breaks, may not be predominantly aerobic. Some sports are thus inherently “aerobic”, while other aerobic exercises, such as fartlek training or aerobic dance classes, are designed specifically to improve aerobic capacity and fitness.

Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:
*Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs

*Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate.

*Toning muscles throughout the body .

*Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen.

*Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression.

As a result, aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. In addition, high-impact aerobic activities (such as jogging or jumping rope) can stimulate bone growth, as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis for both men and women. In addition to the health benefits of aerobic exercise, there are numerous performance benefits:

*Increased storage of energy molecules such as fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, allowing for increased endurance

*Neovascularization of the muscle sarcomeres to increase blood flow through the muscles

*Increasing speed at which aerobic metabolism is activated within muscles, allowing a greater portion of energy for intense exercise to be generated aerobically

*Improving the ability of muscles to use fats during exercise, preserving intramuscular glycogen

*Enhancing the speed at which muscles recover from high intensity exercise

*Strength the heart, thereby reducing resting heart rate

*Helps lower body fat

*Improves your Cardiovascular Condition

*Lowers Blood pressure

*Lowers your total Cholesterol

*Helps to prevent several chronic diseases

*Raises your metabolism during activity

Aerobics” is a particular form of aerobic exercise. Aerobics classes generally involve rapid stepping patterns, performed to music with cues provided by an instructor. This type of aerobic activity became quite popular in the United States after the 1970 publication of The New Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, and went through a brief period of intense popularity in the 1980s, when many celebrities (such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons) produced videos or created television shows promoting this type of aerobic exercise. Group exercise aerobics can be divided into two major types: freestyle aerobics and pre-choreographed aerobics.

How to find Target Heart Rate (THR)

60 to 90% of Maximum Heart Rate
1. 220 – Your Age
2. Minus your Resting Heart Rate
3. Multiply by .6 – .9
4. Add your RHR
This = your THR

220 – 35= 185
185- 72(RHR)= 113
113 x .6 = 67.8
113 x .9 = 101.7
67.8 + 72(RHR) = 139.8 BPM
101.7 + 72 (RHR) = 173.7 BPM

Other intensity Indicators:
Borg Scale RPE: self assessment of your exercise bout.. 6 – 20 . Your target is 12-15
Talk Test: slightly winded during activity

Duration of an Aerobic Session
20- 60 minutes Any physical activity
Housework (sweeping floors, yard work.)
Keep moving and have Fun

When overall fitness is an occupational requirement, as for athletes, combat services, and police and fire personnel, aerobic exercise alone may not provide a well balanced exercise program. In particular, muscular strength, especially upper-body muscular strength, may be neglected. Also, the metabolic pathways involved in anaerobic metabolism (glycolysis and lactic acid fermentation) that generate energy during high intensity, low duration tasks such as sprinting, are not exercised at peak rates. Aerobic exercise is, however, an extremely valuable component of a balanced exercise program and is good for cardiovascular health.

Some persons suffer repetitive stress injuries with some forms of aerobics and then must choose less injurious “low-impact” forms or lengthen the gap between bouts of aerobic exercise to allow for greater recovery.

Aerobics notably does not increase the basal metabolic rate as much as some forms of weight-training, and may therefore be less effective at reducing obesity. However, this form of exercise also allows for longer, more frequent activity and consumes more energy when the individual is active. In addition, the metabolic activity of an individual is heightened for several hours following a bout of aerobic activity.

Aerobic activity is also used by individuals with anorexia as a means of suppressing appetite, since aerobic exercise increases glucose and fatty acids in the blood by stimulating tissues to release their energy stores. While there is some support for exercising while hungry as a means of tapping into fat stores, most evidence is equivocal. In addition, performance can be impaired by lack of nutrients, which can impair training effects.
Click to learn a variety of forms and information for practicing Aerobic Exercise


2 replies on “Aerobic Exercise”

exercises can really help an individual loose weight. Aerobic exercises also improves blood circulation in the body. There are also studies that shows that aerobic exercises also lifts the mood and mental state of an individual.

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