Aerobic exercise is a type of physical conditioning that improves your cardiovascular fitness by enhancing your body's ability to consume oxygen. Aerobic exercise uses steady, continuous rhythmic movements to elevate your heart rate. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that you perform 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. To avoid overuse injuries, consider cross-training with these different types of aerobic workouts.
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Walking is a convenient, low-impact form of aerobic exercise. You can increase the intensity of a walking workout by walking up hills and increasing the pace and stride length. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at how walking affects mortality rates -- they studied the benefits of walking in a group of over 700 men. Participants' daily walking mileage was recorded for two years and then a follow-up study was performed on this same group of men 12 years later. The mortality rate of the men who walked less than 1 mile daily was twice the rate of those who walked over 2 miles.
Running is a high-intensity aerobic workout. It can be performed indoors on a treadmill, or outdoors in a park, on the sidewalk, on trails or on an outdoor running track. Running shoes and running clothes are the only equipment required. Running can burn between 584 and 1,472 calories an hour, depending on your weight and running speed. Some people may also be sensitive to certain weather conditions.
Aerobic Dance Classes
Aerobic dance classes became popular in the 1970s. These classes feature choreographed aerobic activity performed to music. Some classes involve stepping up and down on an 8- to 12-inch platform. High-impact classes -- which involve jumping, hopping and running activities -- will usually burn more calories than low-impact aerobics, but in some cases, they have a greater potential for injury. The calories burned in aerobic dance classes will vary according to the intensity of the movements. Overly complex choreography might impede the participants' ability to follow the movements, resulting in a less-intense workout.
Many people claim that they gain weight during the winter. In some cases, this may be due to decreased activity, but a condition known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, may contribute to the problem. While the condition is sometimes treated with light therapy, participating in a winter sport might alleviate the symptoms. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will burn the most calories, because they do not involve a chairlift. You can get some aerobic benefits from downhill skiing and snowboarding by choosing longer trails.
Whether you cycle indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors, this type of activity is low-impact. Outdoor cycling has an added benefit: it enables you to travel considerable distances and explore interesting territory. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cycling on level terrain or on a stationary bike, at 5 to 9 mph, is a moderate-intensity aerobic activity. For a higher intensity workout, try mountain biking, bike racing or cycling more than 10 mph.
Indoor Aerobic Exericse Equipment
Most fitness centers have a variety of cardiovascular machines, which may include ellipticals, stationary bicycles, treadmills and rowing machines. Some of these machines have mechanisms that allow you to work your upper- and lower-body simultaneously. Others can be intensified by increasing the incline. Personalized video screens are a new trend in indoor aerobic exercise equipment. They allow you to do your workout while watching your favorite television shows.