Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise provides cardiovascular conditioning. The term aerobic means "with oxygen," which means that breathing controls the amount of oxygen that can make it to the muscles to help them burn fuel and move.
The benefits of aerobic exercise include:
- Improves cardiovascular conditioning
- Decreases risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases HDL or "good" cholesterol
- Helps to better control blood sugar
- Assists in weight management and/or weight loss
- Improves lung function
- Decreases resting heart rate
It is recommended that you talk with your physician before you start an exercise program. Ask what, if any, limitations you may have. People who suffer from diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, pulmonary conditions or other health conditions may need additional safety guidelines for exercise.
Do you need examples of aerobic exercise? Visit the listing below for examples of low- and high- impact aerobic exercises.
Lower-impact aerobic exercise includes:
- Using an elliptical trainer
- Using an upper body ergometer (a piece of equipment that provides a cardiovascular workout that targets the upper body only)
Higher impact aerobic exercise includes:
- Jumping rope
- Performing high impact routines or step aerobics
How Often and For How Long Should I Do These Exercises?
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone reach a minimum of 30 minutes of some form of cardiovascular exercise 5 to 7 days per week. This can be broken up into 10-minute time periods. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of three sessions of 20 minutes of the total should be made up of moderate to vigorous exercise to improve cardio-respiratory fitness and help manage weight.
It is appropriate to do aerobic exercise every day. There is no need to rest in between sessions unless you are at an extreme level of training, such as preparing for a marathon, or if you experience recurring joint pain. If joint pain is a limiting factor, it would be appropriate to alternate less painful exercises with those that may cause joint pain or to discontinue the painful exercise altogether.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Every session of aerobic exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up period should not include static stretching, but should instead be a gradual increase in pace and intensity of the exercise. This allows for the body to increase blood flow to the muscles, and decreases the likelihood of a muscle or joint injury. The warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes. The cool-down session should last a similar amount of time as the warm-up, with the pace gradually decreasing. Stretching exercises would be appropriate after aerobic exercise.
Progression of Aerobic Exercise
Progression to higher intensities of exercise should be based on individual exercise tolerance. There are three methods for challenging aerobic fitness:
- Increase the speed
- Increase the resistance
- Increase the duration
Any of these methods will improve aerobic fitness. Increasing intensity should be done very gradually. You should challenge yourself for only a few minutes at a time.