During aerobic exercise
the body releases chemical substances (endorphins) that are similar
in nature to opiates. Aerobic exercise has been shown to be as
effective as anti-depressant medication in relieving the symptoms
of clinical depression.
Definition of Aerobic
Aerobic (meaning 'with oxygen') exercises
are exercises that use the large muscles of your body - usually your arms
and your legs - in repetitive and rhythmic movements - increasing
the need for oxygen in the muscles being exercised. This increased
need for oxygen is met through increased heart rate and respiration.
So your heart and lungs also get a good work out.
Other Benefits of Aerobic
Not only do aerobics provide stress relief, aerobic exercise
strengthens your cardiovascular system, improves your lung capacity,
circulation, increases your endurance, strengthens your muscles
and your bones, increases your 'good' cholesterol while lowering your
'bad' cholesterol, speeds up your metabolism, promotes
weight loss, and improves your sleep.
*Aerobic exercises too close
to your bedtime can keep you awake as your metabolism is raised
for hours after aerobic activity.
Check with a doctor before getting
into a fitness program. If you haven't exercised for a while,
start out slowly.
Warm up Before Aerobic Exercise
Warming up for 5 minutes with some low intensity
aerobic exercise helps your body adjust to the higher demands of
moderate aerobic exercise by slowly increasing your heart rate,
breath rate, and body temperature.
Warming up can be as simple as performing
the same activity as you are about to perform but at a slower pace. A few stretching exercises will help prevent injures. Cooling down for about five minutes is also important. Cooling down
helps your body slowly
adjust to its resting state. Stretch the muscles in the legs (quads, hamstrings, and calves) afterwards.
Intensity and Impact
Intensity refers to how hard your heart and lungs
and muscles have to work. e.g. high intensity aerobics are strenuous
and increase your heart rate considerably.
Impact refers to the stress on your joints (hips,
knees, ankles) when your feet hit the ground.
One foot is on the ground
at all times Brisk walking, marching. low-impact Aerobics are usually,
but not always, also lower in intensity. You can increase the intensity
of a low-impact workout by using larger movements or using both
the upper and lower body simultaneously.
Any exercise where both
feet leave the ground at the same time such as running or jumping,
causing a large impact when coming back down. high-impact exercises
are usually high intensity also. high-impact aerobics are not suitable
for everyone and the risk of injury is higher than in low-impact
Knee Exercises: Strengthen the knees to help prevent knee injuries
during aerobic activity.
Maximum Heart Rate
Maximum heart rate is 220 - age per minute.
(e.g.if you are 30 years old, 220 - 30 = 190, 60% of 190
= 114 beats per minute.) You should never try to exercise at the
maximum heart rate. The resting heart rate becomes lower as the
pumping efficiency of the heart becomes stronger. A beginner will
reach their target heart rate quicker. As your fitness improves,
you can increase your target heart rate to 70% and even 80%. It
is safer to maintain a lower heart rate for a longer period of
Rather than checking your pulse, see if you can talk
while exercising. You should be able to carry on a conversation
while you work out. If you can't, slow down. Some people like
to use a heart rate monitor. Before you go on to a high intensity
activity such as running or walking uphill, you should gradually
increase your time spent on the low intensity work out.
Beginners should start with low intensity
aerobics .(e.g. 60% maximum heart rate as the target heart rate)
such as walking.
Increase Intensity of Aerobic Exercise Slowly
bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills have tension controls
so you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Elliptical
trainers provide an excellent cardio workout yet are low-impact
. If you find these activities boring, you can always watch television
or listen to music while doing them.
Step aerobics (stepping up and down from a 4 - 6 inch platform) can be high intensity while remaining low-impact if you
are careful not to bounce and step with the heel first.
Walking is a good low-impact aerobic exercise and is low to medium
in intensity. You burn the same calories walking a mile as you do
running a mile. The difference is that walking a mile takes longer
than running a mile. Walking, however, doesn't put anywhere near
as much stress on the knees as running or jogging.
Walking can be done almost every day. If you are a beginner, you
can start with 10 minutes, and increase it by a few minutes per
day until you reach 30 minutes. You can break it into a few shorter
walks. If you are really ambitious, you can build up to an hour,
or simply increase the speed at which you walk to increase the intensity.
*Drink plenty of water, before,
during and after your workout to replace water lost by perspiration.
Drink two cups of water 15 minutes before you start out and a cup
of water for every 15 minutes of aerobic exercise.
Walk on softer surfaces, such a dirt track. Walking along a cement
sidewalk is more likely to jar and injure your joints (knees, ankles,
hips). Wear shoes with adequate support and cushioning to help absorb
If you are doing a high-impact aerobic activity that can be hard
on your joints (such as jogging or running), take every other day
off to give your body a chance to recover and repair.
Wait a couple of hours after a heavy meal before doing aerobic
exercises. (During digestion, blood is diverted to your stomach)
Wait about 20 minutes after exercising to have a meal.
Swimming is a no-impact aerobic exercise particularly good for
people with arthritis.
Don't force yourself to exercise when you are ill - and don't
feel guilty about it.