When thinking about exercising, most people associate exercise with aerobic activity. Some of you may be thinking, what is aerobic exercise? Aerobic exercise utilizes the aerobic forms of our bodies’ energy-producing systems. This means it uses oxygen to allow you to sustain exercise for a longer duration of time by delivering oxygenated blood to your muscles. Just like a car, your muscles need fuel to allow their “engines” to work. Aerobic exercise must be done from low to moderate intensity. If the intensity of your workout becomes too high, your body will switch to anaerobic energy sources (without oxygen).
Now that you know some of the physiology behind your exercising, what does this mean for you? First and foremost, if you are not a frequent exerciser and you want to become more active, it is important to start slowly. You do not want to overdo it and injure yourself. If you have been sedentary for a long period of time or have health issues, you may want to see your doctor before you embark on your exercise program.
Enough of the informational session, we’re all dying to know: how can I get moving?! Too many people think that when they first want to become more active they should start running and run as far as they can because that’s how they will burn the most calories. STOP FORREST, STOP.
Here are some aerobic activities you may not have originally thought of that you can utilize to raise your heart rate, send oxygen to your muscles and brain, and help you become more active.
- Step Aerobics: adjust your step height to get the workout that is just right for you. If you have lower extremity injuries or need a lower baseline to start off at, complete your step workout on the ground. If you are someone who likes to push yourself, you can use up to two risers.
- Spinning: control your own resistance and in turn control the intensity of your workout. If you are a beginner, go easy. If you are a more experienced rider, you can push yourself and increase the resistance while trying to maintain the same interval of revolutions your instructor wants you to fall in depending on the course of your ride.
- Cardio Kickboxing: try moving in a new way you may not have originally thought of. There are always ways to modify movements so that a beginner or someone just starting to do this type of exercise more will be able to partake in as well. If you have questions about this, ask your instructor for modifications. He or she will be more than happy to find something that works for you!
- Zumba: get sweaty dancing! Zumba can be a great way to move your feet and hips, and you don’t even realize you’re actually exercising! Who knows, maybe you have a saucy Latin persona inside you waiting to be discovered!
- Walking: start walking for short periods of time. Work your way up to longer periods of time and increase the intensity of your walk. If it is right for you, perhaps you may want to try intervals where you walk at a high speed for 30 seconds and walk regularly for 15. This will help to train your heart for higher level exercise and can be a great tool for progression!
- Water Aerobics: splash into a different aerobic activity. Water aerobics can help take pressure off of sore joints and provide a great form of resistance. Once again, you can control the intensity of your workout. By doing more slow movements against water resistance or working towards high intensity movements to treading water for long durations of time, water aerobics can definitely be progressed to find the right workout for you.
- Circuit Training: use light resistance and shorten your rest periods to increase your muscular endurance. Before partaking in this type of exercise, it is important to have strength training/weight lifting experience or be supervised by someone who is knowledgeable about this or you could put yourself at risk for injury.
Aerobic exercise has a plethora of benefits. A few include boosting your mood, increasing your heart health, maintaining your weight, reducing health risks like osteoporosis and high blood pressure, and maintaining your independence as you age. There are many great ways to get your cardio workout in for the day and help you become more active. Perhaps your niche doesn’t include of the activities on this list, but it is so important to be open to trying different things until you find something that makes exercising something you enjoy doing and look forward to. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to become Forrest Gump! If you enjoy what you’re doing, you will be more app to do it again and again and not even think of the activity you love so much as “exercise.”
By: Natalie Radloff