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The Disadvantages of Aerobic Exercise

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
The Disadvantages of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises can be disadvantageous if you have certain health problems. Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Aerobic exercises, also called cardiovascular exercises, are activities designed to accelerate your heart rate, deepen your breathing and improve your blood flow. When performed regularly, they can lower your risks for a wide array of physical ailments. However, in some cases, performance of aerobic exercises can create certain risks or health disadvantages.

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Aerobic activities vary in intensity from light to vigorous, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many common light-intensity aerobic activities — such as cooking, doing laundry and shopping — are not actual exercises, although they still provide you with some aerobic benefit. Common moderate-intensity aerobic activities include exercises such as brisk walking and bicycle riding on level ground, as well as activities such as cutting your grass. Common vigorous or high-intensity activities include running, jogging, bicycling on uneven ground, swimming laps in a pool and participating in singles tennis.

Medical Conditions

Aerobic exercise can be disadvantageous or dangerous if you’ve displayed symptoms of chest discomfort or pain within the past 30 days, according to the American Heart Association. Exercises of this type may also be unsuitable if you experience pain or pressure in your mid- or left chest or in your left shoulder, arm or neck either during or immediately after an exercise session. Aerobic exercise may also prove disadvantageous if you easily experience extreme breathlessness; take medications for a heart condition, stroke or high blood pressure; have recently experienced a heart attack or stroke; or have known problems with your muscles, bones or joints that may worsen as a result of your activities.

Overexertion and Disability

Properly planned aerobic exercise programs match your level of exertion with your current level of experience and physical fitness. If you are in your 40s or older, have little exercise experience and lead a largely inactive lifestyle, participation in a vigorous aerobic program can tax your abilities and increase your chances for mishap or injury. In some cases, the presence of a specific physical disability may also significantly limit your ability to participate successfully in an aerobic exercise program.


Individuals without specific health problems can typically participate safely in an aerobic exercise program that aligns with their current abilities and experience, the American Heart Association reports. However, you may have other conditions or circumstances that make aerobic exercise unsuitable. Consult your doctor before you start exercising. Also, let him know if you experience any problems once your program is under way. In some cases, your doctor may require you to undergo specific testing procedures before approving you for exercise.

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