“What is aerobic exercise?” is one of the most common questions people ask, especially if they’re new to working out. Get to know more about aerobic activity and its health benefits.
What Is Aerobic Exercise? | Understand Its Definition and Benefits
In this article:
- What Is Aerobic Exercise?
- What Is the Difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise?
- Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
- Aerobic Exercise Guidelines
What Is Aerobic Exercise?
If you lived through the eighties, or even if your familiar with some of its culture, you’ve probably seen the videos of women and men in their leggings, dancing to the groove while jogging in place. And then, if you’re a millennial, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Zumba.
These are both examples of aerobic exercises, which is a type of exercise that has hundreds outlets and different variations. By definition, aerobic fitness is any exercise the promotes the intake and conversion of oxygen. People also call the routines cardiovascular exercises or cardiovascular fitness. This is because these exercises get your heart rate higher than normal.
This is very important to your health, since the heart needs to deliver the oxygen, along with the much-needed nutrients, to the different muscles and organs through the bloodstream. Once the oxygen reaches these large muscle groups, they play a huge role in converting both the carbohydrates and the fats into fuel. This way, you can sustain yourself for a long period of time. When you commit to aerobic exercises, you are strengthening your heart and the muscles that perform this critical function.
Some of the popular cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, biking, skating, swimming, running, dancing, stair climbing, jogging, and cross-country skiing, to name a few.
What Is the Difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise?
Another way to answer the question “What is aerobic exercise?” is to compare it with anaerobic exercise. If aerobic relates to oxygen, then “anaerobic” means “without oxygen.” However, this does not mean it’s bad for the health. Rather, it is not dependent on the supply of oxygen to perform routines.
For this reason, both types of exercises differ in a lot of ways. One, an anaerobic activity usually has a very high exercise intensity but a very short duration. In other words, it leaves you gasping within a limited period of time. Take, for example, weightlifting and other strength training exercises. With aerobic exercise, you can sustain yourself for at least 10 minutes repeating the same movements.
Furthermore, anaerobic exercise uses the existing fuel source of the body, which are the carbohydrates and fat. Aerobic routines need oxygen to burn them into energy.
Even though they vary, it doesn’t mean they are exclusive from one another. Aerobic exercise can become anaerobic when the intensity is high enough.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Now we’ve answered “What is aerobic exercise?” let’s deal with the why: why do you need to do it? Despite the many types of exercises these days, aerobic programs remain popular for a good reason: their health benefits have long been studied and proven.
According to Dr. Ben Levine of UT Southwestern Medical Center, aerobic exercises can do wonders for heart health. They help take care of the blood vessels, improve the oxygen flow throughout the body, and lower the blood pressure. Therefore, they reduce the risk of heart diseases.
When you perform an aerobic exercise, your heart rate and breathing increase. This is your body’s way of transporting the needed oxygen and energy to the working muscles. The more often you perform the exercise, the better your body is able to move the oxygen.
As a result, your heart rate improves, and it has to beat less often to push out the same amount of blood. Your lungs also become better since they are able to bring in more oxygen with every breath, so therefore you breathing becomes more controlled, and the entire exercise is easier.
Prevention or Reduction of Metabolic Conditions
Metabolic problems are some of the serious threats to human health. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2015, it was shown that about 35% of Americans had some form of the metabolic condition, which causes disruption or failure of the body’s metabolism. These conditions include diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
Aerobic fitness can be helpful in reducing the risks of diabetes and obesity by helping burn the glucose or blood sugar. It also makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas that delivers glucose to the cells.
Any physical activity, when done consistently, also counts toward improving weight loss. This is essential for each of us individually, and for our society as a whole, as obesity is one of the risk factors for metabolic conditions.
Let’s face it: when you’re under a lot of stress, a workout is one of the last things people consider spending their time on. You just want to drink some wine, eat, sleep, and maybe watch a movie or two. However, you should note taht exercise is an amazing stress buster, particularly aerobic exercise.
According to Harvard Health, aerobic training helps lower stress hormones, which are cortisol and adrenaline. This alone can make you feel relaxed and less anxious, since your body is no longer in the fight-or-flight mode.
But it doesn’t stop there. Aerobic exercises can also make you feel positive and happier. This is because it stimulates the production of endorphins, which lift your mood. Moreover, since it promotes pleasure, you are less likely to feel pain. It can also decrease the risk of developing tachycardia.
Aerobic Exercise Guidelines
The American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends up to 300 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Broken down, this is an hour of aerobic exercise five days a week.
It doesn’t mean that you need to push yourself to reach this goal immediately. In fact, it may not be ideal for anyone who hasn’t exercised for a long time. You need to get your body adjusted and accustomed to the routines before you dive into being active for long periods of time every day.
As a beginner, ACSM recommends 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. If you are unable to perform 20 to 60 minutes at one time, you can shorten your sessions to 10 minutes. Then try to exercise for two or three sessions each day. That way, you are getting 20 to 30 minutes a day, but not all at once. This is a great way to build up your aerobic capacity so you are able to exercise for longer amounts of time.
You can also improve your aerobic workout intensity over time. For example, a slow walk is a low-intensity exercise. A fast run is a high intensity. Begin with lower-intensity movements and work your way up to moderate-intensity and then high-intensity activities.
You don’t need to confine yourself in the gym to start aerobic exercises. You can walk around the house or neighborhood, march in place, climb the stairs, ride your bike, or dance. What’s most important is finding a program you can commit to.
A very simple cardio workout is a jump rope. Here is a 10-minute routine from POPSUGAR Fitness:
Hopefully, this post answers your question on “What is aerobic exercise?” It should also give you the motivation to give it a try, considering its many health benefits. Don’t forget to support your fitness regimen with the right nutritional products to minimize potential injuries, speed up the recovery, and boost your immunity.
What do you love about aerobic exercises? Let us know in the comments section below.
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