While the word Aerobics might conjure up nostalgic visuals of Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda rocking the fitness world in the 80’s, there is good reason these workout icons brought fame to the fluro headband and leotard. Aerobic exercise was then, and is now an important movement in promoting optimal health and fitness; it’s anything but old-school.
With all the weights and high-tech fitness equipment in the world at our disposal, why is aerobic exercise important?
What is Aerobic Fitness?
Aerobics is not all star-jumps and step-ups. Aerobic exercise is essentially cardio exercise, which stimulates the heart-rate and increases your breathing in order to deliver oxygenated blood to your working muscles. Types of aerobic exercise can include (but are not limited to) running, swimming, dancing, hiking, boxing, skiing, even walking depending on the intensity and your fitness level.
Anything that gets your lungs and heart pumping for more than just a few minutes – allowing your vital organs and muscles to work overtime, is considered aerobics. Your level and frequency of aerobic exercise and stamina determines your aerobic fitness level. That, in a broad nutshell is aerobic fitness.
Why is Aerobic Exercise Important?
All that lovely oxygen coursing through your veins is important in helping your muscles burn fat and carbs efficiently. The more often we allow our muscles to adapt to aerobic exercise, the more we burn, and the more fit we become. Through regular aerobics, we acquire more energy and endurance for future exercise, and our busy lives overall.
When we think about ‘fitness,’ quite often totally ripped athletes come to mind. This is the highest end of the fitness spectrum. Their cardio training is typically off the charts, and (at this point) out of reach for us ‘normal’ people. But don’t let that sway you. The great thing is that aerobic exercise is accessible and beneficial to people of almost all fitness levels – unless not recommended by your physician of course.
The important thing is not to worry about how long, far and fast someone else can run, swim, skip or star-jump. The main thing is that YOUR lungs are working hard, and YOUR Heart is pounding and delivering your body the stimulation it craves to keep active and continue to improve function.
If you’re busy, tired, lacking energy and finding it difficult to get through the day, you might feel that getting puffed and setting your heart-rate into overdrive will wear you out even more – to the contrary. The more active we are, the more energy we produce – provided our diet is aligned with our exercise efforts.
Benefits of Aerobics Exercises
The many benefits of aerobics stretch far beyond ‘getting fit.’ Our amazing body and mind is one, and it was designed to move. Not only to strengthen our muscles, tone up and look good; but to benefit our overall functioning, health and wellbeing.
Physical Benefits of Aerobics
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Improve tone and balance
- Work towards, or maintain a healthy weight
- Increase energy and endurance
- Improve physical capabilities for day-to-day living
Long-term Health Benefits of Regular Aerobics
- Reduced risk of, and prevent heart disease and stroke
- Improve lung capacity and efficiency
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Brain Health and Mental Benefits of Aerobics
Activate and release those lovely endorphins, feel good chemicals and biological processes our brains thrive upon. This not only improves brain functioning; but mental health and wellbeing.
- Reduce inflammation and increase resistance to oxidative stress
- Increase the size and function of key regions such as the hippocampus (which improves memory function and learning)
- Improve responses to stress
- Reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Ease symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Improve self-esteem
- Enhance cognitive performance
You CAN Invite Aerobics Into Your Everyday
It is recommended that we do some form of moderate intensity aerobic exercise everyday for at least 30mins. Regular aerobics classes are fantastic yes; but many of us simply don’t have time in our busy schedules. You can invite aerobics into your life even via three shorter 10-minute sessions. A brisk walk or jog up and down the stairs in the morning, take the stairs instead of the lift at work, do a few star-jumps, walk the dog, or a bike ride after work.
When you do find that 30min time slot, make the most of it. “Moderate Intensity” aerobic exercise should make you slightly breathless, and increase your heart rate to between 55 and 70% of your usual maximum heart-rate; and you should be able to sustain that for 30 minutes.
Get the Most Benefit out of Aerobics
For the best advice on what aerobics activities you should engage in for your age and fitness level, consult your fitness professionals and GP. Remember, aerobic fitness is enhanced through a myriad of activities, so choose those that you ENJOY doing, and don’t feel like a chore. You’re much more likely to happily adopt the habit of increasing your aerobic fitness and overall health and wellbeing.
If you’re stuck inside and looking for inspo, why not search Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons on YouTube for some core Aerobics moves that are sure to benefit your bod…and with a little retro entertainment on the side.