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What Is Aerobic Exercise? - Definition, Benefits & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Aerobic Exercise?
  • 1:20 Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
  • 2:01 Examples of Aerobic Exercise
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the characteristics of aerobic exercise and its many health benefits. You will also read about examples of different types of aerobic workouts.

What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Picture yourself working out. Are you lifting heavy weights? Stretching your muscles? Or maybe you're performing an activity that causes you to sweat and breathe hard, that makes your blood pump through your veins as it carries oxygen to your muscles to keep you going. If you're performing this last activity, then you're engaging in aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body. Aerobic exercise uses your large muscle groups, is rhythmic in nature, and can be maintained continuously for at least 10 minutes.

Before going into the benefits of aerobic exercise, let's break down some key terms we just mentioned. Cardiovascular system is made up of your heart and blood vessels e.g., arteries, veins, and capillaries that transports blood throughout the body. Aerobic refers to how your body uses oxygen to sufficiently meet energy demands during exercise.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

In addition to strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system, participation in regular aerobic exercise has many health benefits. Aerobic exercise:

  • Improves your circulation and helps your body use oxygen better
  • Increases energy
  • Increases endurance, which means you can workout longer without getting tired
  • Helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease
  • Helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes
  • Helps reduce body fat
  • Helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Helps reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression
  • Improves sleep

Examples of Aerobic Exercise

Physical activity such as walking, jogging, indoor cycling, or aerobic dancing are all examples of aerobic exercise that strengthen the heart and lungs, therefore improving your body's utilization of oxygen. For general health, aim for a 30-minute workout (or three 10-minute workouts per day) three to five days a week at moderate intensity. Moderate intensity refers to an activity that will increase your breathing and get your heart beating fast. You should be able to talk with ease during moderate intensity workouts, though trying to sing would be more challenging.

For weight loss, gradually work up to 45 minutes or longer at moderate to vigorous intensity five to six days a week, allowing for at least one day of rest a week. Vigorous intensity refers to an activity that will have your heart beating quite a bit more than moderate intensity workouts, and your breathing will be harder so saying more than a few words will be difficult.

Walking is a great moderate intensity aerobic exercise. The beauty of walking is that it is easy to do with minimal costs. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothing, and places to walk: for example hiking trails, around your neighborhood, and on rainy days you can take your walk indoors and use a treadmill.

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