Aerobic exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of illness, strengthen your heart and boost your mood. Participating in regular aerobic exercise can also help you live longer. To enjoy these benefits, just choose the training method that fits with your lifestyle and try to do it 30 minutes each day.
Going for a long, slow run or walk is considered continuous training. Also known as distance training, this method involves performing an exercise at the same effort level for 20 to 60 minutes or more without resting, according to the American Council on Exercise. Many beginners like this training because it does not require special equipment and can be performed anywhere. Try walking, running or cycling.
Run hard for three minutes, walk for one minute, then repeat. This is an example of interval training. It involves “alternating short bursts of intense activity with an active recovery” says ACE. With interval training you can actually do more work than with continuous training. Plan your intervals, or try a less-structured method known as fartlek training, in which you set each interval depending on how you feel. For a fun fartlek workout, try running as fast as you can to the next driveway and then walking to the street corner. Keep changing the landmarks, interval length and speed until you’ve gone a set distance or time.
Almost any type of exercise can be taught in a group setting, but popular classes include step aerobics, kickboxing and Zumba. This type of aerobic training has been shown to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, weight management and enhance mood according to ACE. Group classes depend on your honesty about your fitness level and exertion -- what you gain will reflect your effort. For step aerobics, start with a 4-inch step. ACE says the most common step height is 8 inches but advanced steppers can use up to 10. Zumba and kickboxing can be enhanced by jumping and increasing your range of motion, but start with low-impact and work up to the advanced moves.
Super-circuit training combines aerobics and weight lifting into one workout. Typically, a circuit is made up of 10 resistance training stations with exercises for every major muscle group. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds at about 50 to 60 percent of the maximum weight you can lift. To make it a super-circuit, do cardo like running or jumping jacks for 30 seconds between each station. A study published in the “National Strength Coaches Association Journal” found that super-circuit training increases strength by 23 percent, cardiovascular fitness by 17 percent and lean body mass by 3 percent. You can also expect a 1 percent drop in your body weight and a 2 percent decrease in body fat.
Many experts recommend using different types of aerobic training methods in your workout routine. Cross-training uses multiple exercises and methods to use your muscles in different ways. It helps prevent injury and can keep you motivated by reducing boredom. To participate, just change things up. Try running on Monday, swimming on Wednesday and biking on Friday.
- A Guide to Personal Fitness Training; Mary York
- National Strength Coaches Association Journal; Strength and Endurance Changes Through Circuit Weight Training; Larry Gettman et al.
- American Council on Exercise: Interval Training
- American Council on Exercise: Step Training Guidelines