Of all the types of physical activity out there, aerobic exercises are the ones that can not only help you lose weight but also improve your overall health as it provides you with a full range of benefits. Aerobic literally means “with oxygen” and the most obvious benefit lies with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and stroke.
Apart from improving your heart health and lung capacity, aerobic exercises are also known to improve muscle mass and strength. Some studies even suggest that aerobic exercises can boost your mood and memory too. What’s even more exciting is the fact that aerobic exercises are safe for people of all ages and need little or no equipment. Some of the most common types of aerobic exercises are walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing and hiking uphill.
Though aerobic exercises may seem uncomplicated and simple enough, there are a few things you need to know before you take any aerobic activity up. This is important because, as with all exercise regimens, aerobic exercises have their own method and characteristics that you must remember if you want to gain their full benefits. The following are the six things you should keep in mind:
1. Exercise safety
Though aerobic exercises can be done by people of any age, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests that it’s necessary to consult your doctor before you start any exercise program. This is especially true for people with an underlying and chronic health condition. If you’re overweight, a smoker, middle-aged or older and have never exercised before, then getting a thorough checkup done can help your doctor and your trainer tailor a better exercise regimen suited to your individual needs.
The AAOS explains that aerobic exercise is based on three basic principles and the first of these is frequency. The AAOS says that aerobic exercises should be done no more than 3-4 times per week. The Cleveland Clinic says that each of these exercise periods should be 30 minutes long but you can break them up further to suit your individual health needs. For example, if you’re obese then three moderate-intensity walks of 10-minutes each throughout the day should be where you start.
The second principle of aerobic exercise is intensity, which indicates how hard you’re working and how high your heart rate is climbing. Managing this heart rate range is a crucial part of aerobic exercises and is determined by your limitations, current fitness levels and ultimate fitness goals. Exercise tolerance and heart rate variability also differ from person to person where intensity is concerned, which is why monitoring your heart rate is even more important while performing this type of exercise.
Time is the third principle of aerobic exercise and the AAOS recommends 20 minutes of non-stop moderate-intensity exercise for people who are completely fit and don’t have any underlying conditions. If you’re not at your fittest level already or haven’t exercised before, then starting with smaller time periods and building your endurance up is vital.
5. Progression after FIT
Once you’ve mastered the FIT principles (Frequency-Intensity-Time) through aerobic exercise, your intensity and duration of exercise can be increased gradually. Progression to higher forms of aerobic exercise regimens like HIIT involves challenging your aerobic fitness by increasing the speed, resistance and duration of the activity. This is usually done under the close supervision of a trained professional only.
6. Warm-up and cool down
Every session of aerobic exercise, no matter what your current fitness level, needs to include a proper warm-up and cool down. It’s quite easy to take these processes for granted but they’re essential if you want to improve your fitness levels instead of causing injuries to your muscles. The Cleveland Clinic says that both your warm-up and cool-down periods should last for 10 minutes, and stretching exercises are best suited for both.
For more information, read our article on Aerobic exercise.
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