Perhaps you’ve heard about the health benefits of aerobic exercise, and that phrase simply makes you conjure up a mental image of a bunch of women clad in cutesy spandex outfits at a school gymnasium performing synchronized Jazzercise steps.

Well, the trend in the past has been to take what is collectively referred to as “aerobics classes”, or gatherings that are enjoyed by groups of men and women who follow an instructor while they embark on an exercise regimen which combines aerobic exercise, stretching and strength-training moves to achieve different levels of fitness.  It may be a “step class” or a dance class.  Aerobic exercise could be simply be doing “Jumping Jacks”… it is anything that gets your heart pumping.  First, we need to define the word “aerobic”, which means “with oxygen”.  Aerobics is not just the exercise regimen per se, but a series of moves by you that will continue to stimulate your heart and breathing rate, improving your breathing through each successive session.   Aerobic exercise takes on many forms.  Such examples include activities like the use of cardio machines, or spinning, running, swimming, walking, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing, kickboxing, and the aforementioned aerobics classes.

If aerobics means “with oxygen”, the opposite type of exercise would be defined as  “anaerobic” which means “without oxygen”.  It is easy to know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic because the latter is an activity that quickly leaves you breathless, such as sprinting or lifting a heavy weight.

Aerobic exercises can become anaerobic exercises if performed at a level of intensity that is too high.

The health benefits of aerobic exercise are improved physical and emotional health when done on a continuing basis.  It is more about long-term health benefits, and not just getting you back into a skirt or pair of pants that have hung in the back of your closet for years.  Aerobic exercise can help prevent or reduce the chance of developing some cancers, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

How much effort and expense is involved to gain aerobic activity reward?

You don’t have to pay exorbitant fees to join a health club, or buy a lot of expensive equipment to enjoy the benefits of regular aerobic activity.  Such everyday pleasures like a walking regimen, swimming in your own pool or at the “Y” or hopping on your bicycle for a ride can all contribute to your longevity and good health for the rest of your life.  If you would like to see how your aerobic exercise efforts will affect your well-being, keep reading to see how your heart, lungs and blood flow will be improved after embarking on a regimen of aerobic activity.

How quickly will I reap benefits that I can see or feel?

Soon after embarking on an aerobics exercise regimen, you will begin to notice changes in your body.  This is because during aerobic activity you move the large muscles in your arms, legs and hips.  Your body will begin to respond favorably from each aerobic workout:  you will breathe faster and more deeply which in turn will maximize the amount of oxygen in your blood.  This will cause your heart to beat faster, which in turn will increase blood flow to your muscles and then back to your lungs.  Even your smallest blood vessels, or capillaries, will widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.

While medically, this is all “good stuff”, other medical benefits are afoot – for example, your body will release endorphins, or natural painkillers,  thus promoting your overall sense of well-being.

Once you begin an aerobic exercise regimen, your health will improve, regardless of age, weight or athletic ability, and the longer you continue this fitness program, and your body adapts to regular aerobic exercise, you’ll keep getting stronger and fitter.

Aerobic exercise program

  • Increased stamina and reduced fatigue  – This is a real positive benefit, which will have you filled with energy day after day.
  • You will maintain your weight and keep the pounds from piling on – After your initial weight loss, continued aerobic activity will keep those pounds at bay.
  • Reduce long-term health risks and short-term illnesses – If you continue an aerobics fitness regimen that exercise will help reduce the risk of such conditions as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke and certain types of cancer.  Aerobic exercise helps lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, keep LDL or “bad” cholesterol at bay and lessen the build-up of plaques in your arteries.  And, if you already suffer with these maladies, aerobic exercise will help manage that condition.  If you combine weight-bearing aerobic exercises in your regimen, such as walking, you may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later years.  In the short-term, you can ward off such viral illnesses like colds and flu as they make the rounds in the workplace or amongst family and friends.
  • Longevity and better quality of life – Embarking on an aerobic exercise routine will help you live longer and will also help to keep your mind sharp.  At least one-half hour of aerobic exercise, three days a week, will help reduce cognitive decline in older adults.

So, whether you’re anxious to begin an aerobics fitness regimen for the short-term results or the long-term results, the health benefits of aerobic benefits simply cannot be beat.  Even if you just begin by factoring in a short walk into your day, it is a start.  Walking is a low-impact aerobic activity.  To begin, you can walk five or ten minutes daily, and after a week, increase the length of the walk until you are up to a 30-minute walk.  After you’ve mastered this plateau, continue to lengthen the route for your walk, and include hills if possible.  You’ve got this!

Don’t put it off any long – don’t even make a New Year’s resolution… start an aerobic program today!