Although aerobic workouts have many health benefits, considering the risks of aerobic exercise is also useful. After addressing safety concerns as well as the pros and cons of cardio machines, design a workout that matches your goals and abilities.
Types of Aerobic Exercise
When you're designing an aerobic exercise regimen, choose activities you already enjoy. The Cleveland Clinic suggests low-impact choices, such as walking, cycling, rowing, swimming or using an elliptical machine. By engaging in one (or more) of these activities, you'll get a good aerobic workout without the jumps and jarring movements that can put stress on your body.
Break a sweat by doing some vigorous yardwork. Crank up your favorite playlist, and rake those crazy leaves to some upbeat tunes. If your lawn needs regular mowing, get an old-fashioned rotary mower (yes, they still exist!), and whip the grass into shape while you burn some calories. If the vegetable garden seems to grow more weeds than plants, do some power weed-pulling several times a week.
Maybe you're ready to handle the demands of high-impact aerobic activity. If that's the case, consider good old-fashioned running or rope jumping workouts. If you enjoy the contagious energy often found in group exercise, join a fast-paced aerobics or step aerobics class at your local gym.
Engage in Regular Aerobic Exercise
To improve your cardiovascular capacity and improve your overall health, design an aerobic exercise program that consistently keeps you moving. The President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition recommends that Americans spread their aerobic workouts throughout the entire week. The Council leaves the number of days per week to your discretion.
Adults should schedule at least two hours and 30 minutes and up to five hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Or, engage in one hour and 15 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes of higher-intensity aerobic workouts each week. If you prefer, vary your workouts to include a mix of both intensities.
To get the most benefit from each workout, ensure that it reaches an intensity level that's sufficient to burn fat and ramp up your fitness level, recommends New Mexico State University. By understanding your proper heart rate training zone, you can keep up that intensity without overtaxing your body and risking injury.
A certified personal trainer can help you build a solid foundation for your aerobic workouts. This exercise-savvy professional will determine your correct heart rate zone, and help you plan your aerobic workouts accordingly. A heart rate monitor can help you stay on track.
Enjoy These Aerobic Exercise Benefits
Aerobic exercise may help improve your health and enhance your quality of life, notes the Mayo Clinic. When you get your body moving, you'll engage numerous large muscles, which causes deeper and faster breathing. As a result, your blood receives more oxygen, which is then delivered to your muscles while waste products are whisked away for disposal.
As the icing on the cake, your body produces endorphins, giving you a sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. Although you might feel fatigued in the initial stages of your aerobic exercise program, stay focused on your fitness goals. Over time, you'll build stamina and strength, which will help that sense of tiredness to diminish.
Regularly engaging in aerobic exercise you enjoy, and eating a well-balanced diet, will contribute to healthy weight loss over time. After you reach your weight loss goal, regular workouts will help you maintain your healthy weight, another of the positive side effects of aerobic exercise.
Consistent aerobic exercise can also lessen the chances that you'll encounter varied health challenges. You'll be less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome. You'll also be at a decreased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, as the Mayo Clinic points out.
In addition, your type II diabetes risk will diminish, along with your probability of contracting certain types of cancer. By regularly engaging in weight-bearing aerobic activities, such as dancing, walking or running, you won't be as likely to develop osteoporosis.
As you become older, keeping up body-friendly aerobic exercise will help maintain your muscle strength. In turn, you'll retain a higher degree of mobility, and you'll be less likely to experience falls and related injuries. As another of the positive side effects of aerobic exercise, staying physically active can help you to get more satisfaction out of life.
Regular aerobic exercise can also help your mind to stay healthy and active. Young adults and children may experience better cognitive functionality. Older adults' judgment, reasoning abilities and memory can be better preserved. In addition, dementia patients' overall cognitive levels have shown improvement from exercise.
Read more: How Aerobic Exercise Improves Brain Health
Risks of Aerobic Exercise
Consistent physical activity has demonstrated health benefits, and most healthy adults can safely enjoy light to moderate-intensity workouts. If you have a chronic health problem or symptoms that affect your ability to engage in regular exercise, Harvard Health recommends talking with your physician before proceeding further.
Realize that physical activity carries some risks, and you should pay attention to your body's signals that something is wrong. First, if you're physically sick or simply exhausted, take a break from exercise. If you put your exercise program on hold and then return to your regimen, knock down the difficulty level or reduce the weights or number of sets.
If you push your body too hard, you can become susceptible to overuse injuries and other risks of endurance training. Examples include sore muscles and joints and stress fractures. Sports requiring lots of repetitive motion, such as jogging or tennis, can be ripe for overuse problems. Mixing up your activities and including rest periods will minimize the risk factors of exercise.
By engaging in vigorous workouts in hot and muggy conditions, you're setting the stage for dehydration and overheating issues. Minimize this hazard by exercising when it's cooler outside, such as morning or evening hours, or hit the air-conditioned gym. If you must continue exercising outdoors, stay well hydrated and watch for signs you're becoming overheated.
If you'll continue outdoor workouts during the colder fall and winter months, take steps to avoid the effects of hypothermia, one of the risk factors of exercise. By dressing in easily discarded layers and toasty-warm gloves, you can shed excess clothing as you warm up.
Exercise Machines: Ellipticals and Treadmills
Aerobic exercise machines, or cardio equipment, offer a convenient way to boost your cardiovascular capacity and work your muscles. Whether you work out at your local gym or head to your home exercise room, you can reap the benefits of aerobic exercise without worrying about the weather.
However, the ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute notes that some cardio machines have tdownsides. So, carefully evaluate each machine's pros and cons when designing your aerobic workout program.
Elliptical machines are popular with many exercisers as they offer an effective cardio workout with a zero-impact gliding motion. More advanced models enable you to work your arms and legs at the same time. This attribute raises the difficulty factor and sets the stage for more cardio benefits.
However, elliptical machine benefits do come with two drawbacks. First, the device's gliding motion puts considerable stress on your buttock and hip muscles, potentially causing overuse injuries without treatment. In addition, syncing your arms and legs might prove challenging, and could make you avoid the machine as a result.
Maybe you'd prefer a good old-fashioned treadmill, an easy-to-use option for an indoor walking or running workout. Regular use helps to build your lower body muscles. In addition, repeatedly making impact with the treadmill's surface can help boost bone strength and ward off osteoporosis.
Treadmills have two detractors, however. Engaging in an energetic running workout can contribute to lower extremities and lumbar spine injuries. In addition, high-impact use often leads to equipment breakdowns and expensive repair bills.
Exercise Machines: Bikes and Climbers
The ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute also profiles comfortable, portable stationary bikes, a staple of commercial gyms and home workout rooms. This unassuming machine offers a non-impact exercise option for users with arthritis or other lower extremity conditions. A regular stationary bike promotes good core strength and stamina, while the recumbent variety provides superb comfort and back support.
On the flip side, stationary bike use can cause front knee joint discomfort. In addition, you'll have minimal calorie burn compared to other aerobic exercise machines. If you're focused on increasing your bone density with weight-bearing exercise, a stationary bike isn't the best tool for accomplishing that goal.
Stair climbers closely mimic the actions you'd take while climbing the stairs in your home or office building. This high-energy machine offers an impressive cardio workout that can also build your lower extremity muscles.
A stair climber does have one main disadvantage. When you flex your knee joint and then extend it while you're in weight-bearing mode, you'll experience extra-high compression force. In addition, your stair climber workouts can potentially result in development of knee pain and associated cartilage damage.
Read more: List of Aerobic Workouts
Learn About Endurance Training Risks
Regular aerobic endurance training places varied physical demands on each exerciser's body. A June 2016 article, published in Breathe: The Respiratory Professional's Source for Continuing Medical Education, profiled the current knowledge regarding recreational exercisers' and elite athletes' respiratory health issues.
The analysis concluded that recreational exercisers who engaged in high-intensity endurance workouts did experience mild airway inflammation. Assuming that the subjects lived in a moderate climate and didn't have any other exercise-related respiratory conditions, they shouldn't experience any lasting effects.
In contrast, elite athletes who engaged in summer and winter sports activities were prone to developing asthma as a result of consistent high-intensity exercise. This finding could have been partially influenced by environmental allergens or poor air quality.
Overall, the analysis concluded that aerobic endurance training has numerous health benefits. However, intense or high-volume exercise is associated with development of potentially harmful respiratory effects, which demonstrates one of the risks of endurance training.
- Cleveland Clinic: “Aerobic Exercise”
- President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition: “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans”
- Mayo Clinic: “Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “10 Tips for Exercising Safely”
- ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute: “Pros and Cons of Cardio Equipment”
- NCBI: Breathe: The Respiratory Professional's Source for Continuing Medical Education: “Endurance Training: Is It Bad for You?”
- New Mexico State University: “Why and How to Do Aerobic Training, Including High-Intensity Interval Training”