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Use Aerobic Exercise as a Building Block

There is More to Cardio than Just Running
  -- By Zach Van Hart, SparkPeople Contributor
If exercisers picked a mascot, what do you think it would be? A jump rope? A punching bag? A man with a giant baseball as a head? If I had to guess, it would be an athletic shoe. A good pair of shoes can be an inspiration and reminder to get moving, whether you walk, bike, hike or enjoy any other type of physical activity. That's because aerobic exercise, is a cornerstone to being physically fit.

Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups rhythmically and continuously and elevates the heart rate and breathing for a sustained period. Say what? In other words, you are exercising at a faster but stable rate, as the heart and lungs try to keep up with your demand for blood and oxygen so you can continue exercising.

The beautiful thing about aerobic exercise is you can do it everyday without even knowing it! When you walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, when you ride bikes with your family, and when you run with your dog--it’s all aerobic exercise.

The benefit list for aerobic exercise includes decreasing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, improving muscular endurance, reducing body fat, and it makes your heart, lungs and bones stronger. You will breathe easier and your heart will be much healthier.

Eventually, you will want to build up your cardio level so you can also partake in anaerobic exercise, which is exercise at a more difficult pace. This is when you are going all-out, like the 100-meter dash. Consider anaerobic the icing on the cake to good, cardio exercise. It’s important to gradually work anaerobic exercise into your workout, starting with very low intensity, especially if you’re not used to it. Doing 20 wind sprints or something similar right away can lead to injury or worse.

Here are some examples of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Feel free to try some or all of them out when you are ready:
    Aerobic
  • Running
  • Riding a bike
  • Elliptical machine
  • Rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Skiing, especially cross-country
  • Canoeing
  • Spinning
  • Even walking!
    Anaerobic
  • Weight lifting
  • Sprinting – on your feet or a bike
  • Jump rope
  • Sports like tennis, basketball, football