The term aerobics means “with oxygen”. Aerobic exercises are physical exercises intended to improve the intake of oxygen and its movement around the body. During an aerobic workout, the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, lungs and blood vessels, responds to increased levels of physical activity by increasing the oxygen that is available to the body’s working muscles.

Aerobic activity involves an exercise routine that uses large muscle groups, is maintained for a sustained period and is rhythmic in nature. Regular aerobic exercise improves your level of fitness, as your heart becomes stronger and begins to work more efficiently. The result is that the heart can pump more blood (thus increasing oxygen delivery to the tissues) with each heartbeat. As your aerobic fitness increases, you will be able to work out longer with greater intensity and you will recover more quickly at the end of your workout session.

What are some examples of aerobic exercise?

There are numerous activities that can provide an aerobic workout. Some examples include biking, jogging, running, swimming, cross-country skiing, basketball, jumping rope, roller ska ng, brisk fitness walking and some types of dancing. In addition to these activities, an aerobic workout can be achieved in a specially designed aerobic dance class or by using stationary exercise machines (cycles, treadmills, stair-steppers, rowing machines, just to name a few) that can be found at a local gym or health club. Most of these machines can also be purchased and set up for home use.


How often should I perform aerobic exercises?

It is recommended that aerobic activity be performed three to five times per week, for 20 to 60 minutes at an intensity of 60 percent to 90 percent of maximum heart rate. To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply this number by 0.60 for the low end of your target heart range and by 0.90 for the higher range. This refers to the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are engaged in aerobic exercise.

What are the added benefits of aerobic exercise?

Studies have shown repeatedly that there are numerous health benefits to aerobic exercise. In addition to the benefits to the cardiovascular system, aerobic exercise can:
Increase resistance to fatigue and give you more energy. Aerobic exercise can add life to your years along with years to your life.

  1. Improve mood and reduce depression and anxiety. Positive mood changes have been noted after as little as two or three weeks of aerobic exercise.
  2. Improve the quality of your sleep. Studies show that people who exercise regularly get to sleep quicker and report more restful sleep patterns. It is best to complete your aerobic exercise routine one to two hours before your regular bed time because it takes a little time for the general emotional and physical relaxation to set in after workout.
  3. Increase the good (HDL) cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  4. Stress reduction. Following a regular aerobics program gives you a sense of commitment and control – two positive mental attitudes that help counteract stress.
  5. Aerobics also relaxes tense muscles, thereby completing (and relieving) your body’s stress response.

Get started. Like any new activity, it takes time for the body to adjust to change. You may experience some soreness and stiffness as you begin a new aerobic workout, but the benefits are worth it!