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Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise includes any form of exercise which increases your breathing and heart rate. It improves the degree of oxygen uptake and the overall fitness and efficiency of the heart and lungs as well as exercising other muscles. During aerobic exercise your body requires more oxygen which means your heart beats faster to pump more blood around the body, and the heart and lungs are working harder to deliver oxygen from the air to your muscles. This helps strengthen your heart and lungs making them work more efficiently. It also helps lower the risk of heart attack and coronary artery disease.

Aerobic exercise can also:

  • Help maintain strong bones.
  • Help lower blood pressure.
  • Help reduce body fat.
  • Help increase the ability of muscles to use oxygen.
  • Increase endorphin, a brain chemical which helps improve our sense of well-being, increase endurability and enhances the blood flow to organs and limbs.
  • Relieve stress and promote a healthier state of mind.
  • Help improve your cholesterol profile.


How much aerobic exercise should I do?

Complete beginners should start off by doing 5-10 minutes and gradually build this up. As you become more active aim for 20-30 minutes, at least 3 days a week. If you are using aerobic exercise for weight loss you may want to do more than 30 minutes.

During aerobic exercise your heart rate will increase, most aerobic gym equipment will monitor your heart rate for you, however you should not allow your heart rate to increase to more than 75% of your heart's maximum capacity. It should reach a point between 50% and 75% of your maximum heart rate and stay there for 20 minutes or more. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220 for a male and 226 for a female. For example, the maximum rate for a female aged 30 is approximately 196.

As aerobic exercise puts pressure on the heart, lungs and blood vessels it is advisable to consult your doctor before beginning an aerobic exercise program particularly if you have any health problems.

Before starting your aerobic exercise you should do 5-10 minutes of stretching & flexibility exercises and the same after you have finished your aerobis session.

Click here to find out about stretching & flexibility exercises.

Types of aerobic exercise

The most popular types of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, cycling, rowing and swimming.

Running and jogging are classed as high-impact aerobic exercise because of the stress placed on muscles and joints. They are probably the most flexible forms of aerobic exercise as they can be done on the road or on the treadmill in a gym. Undertaking these types of exercise regularly, during which you push your body beyond what it's used to doing, will help you achieve a well balanced body.

Walking (on the road or on a treadmill), swimming and cycling are classed as low-impact forms of aerobic exercise, although it is worth knowing that cycling can put stress on muscles and knees.

Other good forms of aerobic exercise include ball, racket and team games including tennis, squash and football. Swimming is a good all round form of exercise which tones your entire body, it helps strengthen your heart, improves delivery of oxygen to the muscles and provides a good cardiovascular workout. Swimming is also a more relaxing form of exercise. Aerobics classes are provided by most leisure centres and provide a good all round work-out focusing on heart, lungs and other muslces. They also provide social benefits.

Aerobic exercise should be combined with anaerobic exercise.

Click here to find out more about anaerobic exercise.


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