A Complete Guide to Aerobic Exercise (2020 Edition)
Aerobic exercise is pretty much the most prominent form of exercise out there. It's an umbrella topic which contains a huge number of things underneath it. To be able to really make the most of it, or even convince yourself to start doing it in the first place, it's a good idea to find out why...
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise, also commonly just referred to as cardiovascular exercise or simply cardio, is any exercise where you are using oxygen to fuel your muscles. When you get your heart rate up and your breathing quickens, your blood circulates faster and more oxygen is distributed with it.
This is massively different from the inverse of this, which is anaerobic exercise, where you're not using oxygen as much to fuel your movement. Anaerobic exercise is when you're using so much energy, oxygen just won't cut it. That covers things like lifting heavy weights or even hardcore cardio or HIIT training. There’s a big difference.
What counts as aerobic exercise?
As we’ve just discussed, aerobic exercise is anything which gets you breathing more and your heart rate up; to a certain extent anyway. Generally speaking, it’s anything you can do continuously for more than a minute.
It can be anything from:
It’s anything that gets your heart rate up really, but not that you can’t keep up for a long time, since that means you’re probably using anaerobic and not aerobic.
What’s so good about it?
So now we know what it is and what you can do, it’s time to look at the biggest aspect of cardio or aerobic exercise. What are the benefits that come with it? Not only is it an awesome way to improve your health, burn calories and keep you fit, but it's amazing for a HUGE range of other things too!
Aerobic exercise is an excellent way to help manage your weight. You're burning excess calories and building a little muscle at the same time. It's a great way to keep your weight in check!
Any kind of cardio exercise means you’re moving more, and that’s an awesome thing for your flexibility. The more that you move, the more that you can move. It's a great way to keep everything in working order, especially in later life!
This one often goes without saying, but of course, aerobic exercise is an effective way to boost your stamina. Your body adapts to the work you're doing to make it easier, and as a result, you manage oxygen more effectively. That means you have a lot more energy and can exercise for a lot longer the more you do it. It transfers into everyday life too.
On a similar level, your lung function improves as a direct result of aerobic exercise. As you use them more, it's kind of like giving them a workout of their own. Your lungs can take in more oxygen and send it to the right places more efficiently.
It might sound impossible, but cardiovascular exercise still means that you're using your muscles a lot. No matter if you're walking, running, dancing or rowing, you're using your muscles to push you in the direction you want to move. Moving your body weight is hard work after all, and your muscle mass increases as a result of it.
When you're not as active as you might like to be, your balance is often one of the first things to take a hit. It's more of a 'use it or lose it' kind of thing. The more you are moving around, the more your body builds muscles to stabilise you, both in and out of exercise.
This is probably the most famous benefit of aerobic exercise, and it's for a reason. Exercise has an incredible effect on your heart health, directly and indirectly. Take a look here for more on that.
Memory and Decision Making
Believe it or not, exercise has a huge range of mental benefits (see here). Some of the biggest of those are the effects on memory and decision-making skills! Exercising your body actually exercises your mind too. Who’d have guessed it! (Check out this article from Harvard health too if you don't believe us!)
Mood and motivation
This is, of course, the less physical effect of exercise, but aerobics are a guaranteed mood buster 100% of the time. It releases endorphins which give you that feel-good feeling and that drive to be healthy and productive.
Another effect of exercise on your heart health is how it affects your blood pressure. You're exercising your heart from all of this aerobic exercise after all (hence the name cardiovascular exercise!). It means your heart is stronger and fitter, and able to pump blood better than ever.
That’s only scratching the surface of the benefits of exercise, but there are tonnes more out there for you to make the most of
Check out our article on the benefits of cardio here to get a little more insight. This is just a quick overview!
To conclude, aerobic exercise is an incredible way to help yourself, both physically and mentally. It has more benefits than we realise with new ones being discovered on a daily basis. The quicker you get going, the quicker you reap the rewards. Get moving, get active, and get healthy!
Before you do go, there is one last thing that we have to say, and that is how cardiovascular exercise can impact your joints. It’s a more significant topic than you might think, and there are a lot of rumours surrounding it. Different activities have different impacts and intensities. These affect your joints in different ways. Take a look here to make sure you know how to protect them in the long and the short term before you start
Other than that, get going and good luck!
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.