Being aerobically active has many benefits: it lowers your blood pressure and increases good cholesterol. It even helps you to look better and feel better. Aerobic activity is also the way to burn lots of calories when you exercise. By burning calories, you will lose fat. So if weight loss is what you are looking for then it is important to have aerobic activity in your exercise plans.
In addition, being aerobically fit can lower your chances of getting depression and can make you cope better with the stresses life throws at us. The reason for this is because your body produces more ‘feel good’ endorphins when you do aerobic activity, which in turn makes you feel happier. Plus, being fit improves your self-esteem and can lead you to enjoy working out!
Aerobic workouts help your lungs to take in more air and so help your body to use oxygen more efficiently. Oxygen is very important as it gives us the energy to be able to workout, to carry out our normal daily routine…but with the bonus of less effort and more energy!
Some examples of aerobic activity could be: cycling, jogging, running, rowing, skipping, walking and hiking. It is important to try to choose an activity that you enjoy and something that easily will fit in with when you have some free time. If you cannot always exercise regularly, do not feel too bad. Just get back to it as soon as you can.
So…there are lots of reasons to be and to get aerobically active today!
The benefits in brief:
- A strong cardiovascular system
- Lowered blood pressure
- More energy
- Improved sleep
- A leaner body
- Benefits the body and the brain
- Lowered cholesterol
- Makes you feel good
- A strong heart – important as it is a very crucial organ!
Where to begin…:
You need to make sure that you are actually doing something that gets your heart pumping!
Aerobic exercise is:
- continuous i.e. non stop
- moves you into your “target heart rate zone” (where you burn calories, fat etc.)
- is at least 10 minutes
- using the muscles in your lower body
The key is to start slowly because gentle exercise pays off for beginners. Your body will soon adapt and benefit from the smallest increase in activity. By starting at an easy pace, you will enjoy your new activity more and be more inclined to keep doing it.
It is also important to exercise in your target heart range. This will enable you to keep exercising for a decent amount of time without getting breathless. You will also be challenged, which will help you to soon see noticeable results.
You do not have to running flat out all of the time! You can do a combination of moderate/intense exercise. This could be doing some walking and some jogging. Your goal would be to gradually do more jogging and less walking.
Things to consider:
You should always warm up and cool down. There is a wealth of information online for simple, yet effective warm ups and cool downs.
When starting out with aerobic workouts, you should try to increase the length of your workouts by only a couple of minutes at a time. If your body is hurting, do not over do it. Pain is your body is telling you something is wrong. Slow it down and listen to your body! It knows when enough is enough!
Getting Results and Staying Motivated
It is quite a good idea to track your aerobic fitness. To being with you can test your fitness by running/jogging a mile. You should first start off by jogging or walking slowly for 5 minutes and then see how many minutes after this it takes you to do a mile.
It is important to walk/jog first to get your heart into the ‘target hearth rate zone’. You can then repeat this test every month and see how you are progressing. If you have got yourself a bit fitter, the time it takes you to do the mile should have decreased.
If you are keen to see fast results, you should choose an activity, which uses the whole body. This could be, for example, rowing or jogging. Swimming is a good activity too but it tends to focus on the upper body more. Cycling is a good activity but stationary cycling focuses on the lower body.
By keeping up a regular aerobic activity routine, you will soon feel more energetic and have more stamina. You might find that you feel less tired and that you may shed some pounds. If you add in some strength training in addition to your aerobic activity, this can really help with weight control because your body burns more calories when it has more muscle!
Frequently Asked Questions
How often? As often as possible! You should aim to have at least three 30-minute workouts each week. You must exercise for at least 10 minutes to get into your ‘target heart rate zone’.
Am I getting fitter? A way to test this is to monitor your heart rate recovery time. To do this you take your pulse straight after your workout. You would then cool down for 5 minutes or so and check your pulse again. You can compare the two numbers. The greater the difference between the 2, the better your fitness is.
How can I keep motivated? You could use exercise DVDs at home, join a gym, sign up to a fitness class, or do some exercise with a friend. You could also change your exercise depending on the weather and exercise indoors and outdoors as well as doing a variety of activities.
What do you think would be a good aerobic activity and why?