Whether your goal is to lose weight, become fitter or add something new to your weight-training regime, any form of aerobic exercise can be a definite boon. The term is often used interchangeably with cardio training, but aerobics itself means with oxygen, and that is an apt enough explanation for the kind of physical activities that fall under it.

Rhythmic, sustained physical activity over a prolonged period of time at a low intensity is how one would define aerobic training. In contrast, anaerobic training - most commonly weight or resistance training - requires short bursts of energy at short intervals for muscle development.

Regular aerobics can improve your cardiovascular fitness and prevent heart diseases. Some examples include cardio machines like the treadmill or the elliptical (cross) trainer, jogging, walking, swimming, cycling or the dance fitness and kickboxing group classes we have seen become such a big trend all over.

Pursuing any of the above mentioned activities at a high-intensity can turn it into an anaerobic exercise, so ensure that the activity you're performing is the right one for you, and performed at the right level. While researches say a mix of aerobics and strength training activities make it the perfect blend in the pursuit of fitness, each individual may have a different fitness goal than the other.

Read more: 10 common misconceptions about working out 

  1. Benefits of aerobic exercise
  2. Types of aerobic exercises
  3. Precautions while performing aerobic exercises
  4. Takeaways of aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, asthma, diabetes, depression and stress, making it a vital part of your fitness journey. It is the simplest form of exercise that doesn't require the use of external equipment and effective in keeping fit anywhere. It's overall benefits include:

Promotes heart health

Doctors recommend aerobic exercises to patients suffering from heart-related ailments. The reason behind this is aerobics strengthen the heart and keep it healthy to provide blood throughout the body. Aerobic exercises also help regulate blood pressure. Cardio activities increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol levels, while reducing the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol to cleanse the arteries. Performing an aerobic exercise on a regular basis at least 3-4 times a week at low to moderate intensity for about an hour helps maintain good cardiovascular health.

Controls blood sugar

Regular exercise helps build insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar levels in the body. This also prevents gaining weight. A regular schedule involving consistent aerobics is known to have improved the life of diabetic and pre-diabetic people greatly. A study published by Diabetes Care in 2016 said daily exercise or activities performed with less than a two-day break in between sessions is recommended to enhance insulin action.

Relief from asthma

As opposed to the belief that asthma patients should stay away from physical activity, aerobic exercise has shown to lower the risk of an asthma attack. If you’re an asthma patient then consult your doctor before starting any workout, but moderate to low intensity activity is known to increase lung capacity and breathing control.

Disease management

Chronic diseases like back pain can be treated with aerobic exercises. Especially with swimming or other forms of low-impact aerobic exercises in water allows your back muscles to work properly. These exercises also help in weight loss that reduces the pressure on the spine.

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Improves sleep

Those afflicted by sleep deprivation or insomnia also stand a chance to get improved sleep thanks to regular physical activity. According to a study, regular exercise treats insomnia by reducing its symptoms. Exercising before bedtime can cause muscle fatigue, so getting in consistent aerobics activity during the day can help you relieve various triggers that may have previously robbed you of sleep.

Weight management

right diet and workout can help you lose weight or regulate your body weight efficiently and effectively, and aerobics works into this thinking in the same manner to promote weight management. This prevents various conditions like diabetes, stress and mental health issues.

Aerobic exercises strengthen the heart and lungs and allow the cardiovascular system to function efficiently. With the help of aerobic exercises, oxygen travels more effectively and in great volumes to the entire body. You can train some of the biggest muscle groups like the lower body through rythmic, consistent movements. Here are some examples of aerobic activities:

  • Walking: The most common and accessible aerobic activity is also the most natural form of human movement. According to a study, an individual should walk 7000-10000 steps a day to stay healthy. Those suffering from chronic ailments or illnesses can benefit greatly by simply walking for more than 30 minutes everyday.
  • Running or jogging: Running is the most effective form of aerobics, and reduces fat by burning more calories. Whether it is a treadmill run or done outdoors, running at a moderate speed a few times during the week keeps the muscles in the body activated and promotes greater blood circulation throughout the body.
  • Skipping rope: Also called the jump rope, practising skipping for a short duration during the course of a week or by including it in your fitness regime makes it for a great aerobic or cardiovascular workout. It can be done at home, park or the gym with equal ease, making it a truly versatile activity.
  • Elliptical trainer: Another effective exercise to start sweating in no time, the cross trainer is also an example of an aerobic activity. It is a great mobility exercise as well.
  • Cycling: Cycling is another low-intensity aerobic exercise which has a significantly lesser impact on the practitioner's knees as compared to running.
  • Swimming: Another superb low-impact physical activity that falls under the aerobics group, swimming is a fantastic sport that promotes good health. Swimming has particular benefits for those with asthma as it has a positive impact on lung capacity. It also provides resistance under water that benefits people with chronic musculoskeletal conditions by reducing the impact on bones and joints.
  • Dance fitness: Various forms of dance movements are also considered aerobic activities if performed at low to moderate intensity. Dance fitness forms such as zumba, bhangra or other activities performed in a group session are the prime examples.
  • Jumping jacks: Similar to skipping ropes, jumping jacks perform a similar duty while elevating your cardiovascular performance.
  • Kickboxing: Considered a form of martial art, the combination of boxing and kicking movements performed for a prolonged period of time is also a key cardiovascular or aerobic activity.

Aerobic exercises are low-impact workouts, but practitioners are at a lower risk of sustaining workout injuries because of they are performed at significantly lower intensity. However, an individual can get injured if they are putting unnecessary pressure on different parts of the body, or ignoring the correct ways to do them.

  • Do not increase the intensity, keep it low to moderate. Increasing intensity of cardiovascular exercises can turn them into anaerobic training as they require greater bursts of energy.
  • Perform the exercises under someone’s supervision. It is always beneficial to have a trainer have a look at your technique and form while performing any of the above mentioned aerobic activities.
  • Wear good quality shoes for running, walking or other physical activities.
  • Always warm-up before working out.
  • Stay hydrated. Aerobic activities are performed over prolonged periods, which requires your body to be fuelled with water.
  • Although about 30 days of aerobic activity is needed over five days in a week, you can break it down into several short intervals during the course of a day as well. 

Whether performing as a means of getting into fitness or to maintain a good level of physical health, aerobic activities are not only beneficial but also essential to be included in one's fitness routine. Sedentary lifestyle or prolonged sitting or resting periods cause unregulated storing of fat in the body, which results in weight gain and reduced muscle activity. Aerobic fitness routines allow you to break away from that mould and get into an active lifestyle, which also maintains overall mental health.

It depends on one’s lifestyle and needs as per their desired goal to pick their favoured aerobic activity. An individual, however, stands to benefit even more when aerobic fitness is complemented with anaerobic fitness, and combining the benefits of steady state fitness activities with resistance or strength training can help with greater cardiovascular fitness as well as muscle endurance.


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