Fitness Articles

Reference Guide to Aerobic Exercise

An In-Depth Look

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Training Methods
There are various types of training methods, depending on personal preference. Use each of the methods periodically to add variety to your workouts.
  • Continuous training is the most common method of aerobic exercise. It involves sustaining one exercise intensity for several minutes 20-60 minutes (or more for long-distance training) at a time.
  • Interval training involves alternating between higher and lower intensity intervals throughout one workout. Learn more about the basics of Interval Training, and an advanced form known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
  • Circuit training uses a series of exercise stations (which could also include strength training stations), with relatively brief rest intervals between each station. The purpose is to keep the heart rate elevated near the aerobic level for a variety of exercises. Learn more about circuit training.
  • Cross-training basically means participating in a variety of different forms of aerobic exercise, either within each session (for example, biking for 15 minutes and then running for 15 minutes) or day-to-day (for example, running 2 days a week, cycling 2 days a week, and swimming 1 day a week). It’s a good idea to cross-train to prevent plateaus and overuse injuries and boost your overall fitness level.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • KLIGOR
    Excellent article, with good basic overview of aerobic exercise.

    I do agree that aerobic exercise is important, but from practical experience as a personal trainer, I believe that the guidelines should emphasize resistance training over aerobic training. That is not to say that aerobic training is not important (it is), it's just that resistance training can actually give you more benefits than aerobic training.

    Resistance training done in a circuit format will give you the obvious strength benefits, but it will also give you endurance benefits, and if you're doing it through a full range of motion, flexibility benefits. On the other hand, if a person performs aerobic exercise exclusively, yes, their aerobic endurance will improve, but their strength and flexibility will get worse.

    Furthermore, if aerobic exercise is performed excessively and exclusively, it will actually cause fat gain at some point. I actually wrote a blog about it right here:

    http://www.toro
    ntofitnessonl
    ine.com/2012/
    02/13/aerobic
    -exercise-can-make-you-fat/

    I understand that there are space limitations, so overall, I want to re-state that it's a good basic overview of aerobic training.

    Igor. - 12/9/2012 3:30:06 PM

  • So, not the "perfect" article . . . but ten times better than my best would ever be.

    There is never ever too much info regarding aerobics! - 10/17/2012 1:08:51 PM
  • Helpful article for me as I'm just starting out.

    Is there a way of favouriting it? I can't see a button to click on unless I'm just being dense :/ - 10/17/2012 5:42:28 AM
  • WAYNE56
    It is my understanding that you burn more fat at a lower intensity than your THR is this correct or not. Or do you still burn as much fat at the THR but also get a better aerobic work out - 8/10/2012 2:13:56 PM
  • VIRGO091190
    Can you help to know some important things about teaching aerobics? I am oing to teach aerobics just only for my friends...
    How many session per day and per month?
    It is ok,,if one session per day? So it means 20 minutes it's the total of my teaching lesson everyday? - 6/30/2012 4:21:23 AM
  • SPWORKOUT
    Exercising is a great way of reducing body fat and keeping your muscles fit. But as you may already know, not all types of exercises are good for you. Of course, you have to make sure that your body has enough strength to carry out a particular exercise routine. There have been many cases when bodies give out and succumb to injuries because the exercise routine is more rigorous than what the body can muster. There are generally two types of exercises: aerobic and anaerobic. They differ in terms of the routine they contain and the benefits they give.
    - 5/23/2012 4:44:38 AM
  • @CamelSamba: Yeah, I see why that was confusing. It's still aerobic, the article is just trying to stress that you get the most benefit out of doing the activity at least three times per week. Right now, I don't do the same aerobic activity three times a week; I've been doing two workouts a week rowing and two workouts a week swimming. Any more with the rowing and I think it's overkill, and I'm not that strong a swimmer yet.

    I appreciate that this article talks about activities other than just plodding along on a machine. I gave myself a stress fracture from doing too much on the treadmill, so I've switched to a lot of bodyweight circuits and intervals after my strength training, and it's really kicking my butt! I challenge anyone who doubts that to do a leg workout and then finish with intervals of kettlebell swings and bodyweight squats and see how long they last. My butt was crying for days!! I like the idea of finishing a workout with something like that because it gets me out of the gym faster, and then I can do longer, steady cardio on days that I'm not lifting.

    The one thing I would add is that if you can do high intensity intervals for more than 15-20 minutes, you're not doing high intensity intervals. Steady cardio is good for up to 60 minutes, but if you're doing that much with HIIT, then your intervals aren't intense enough. Just sayin'. - 1/21/2012 1:16:45 PM
  • CALLIBISH9
    I am loving this website and am really glad that I joined. There are so many helpful and interesting tips and articles!!!! - 7/8/2011 7:32:38 PM
  • ANADSEWIL
    Stretching is part of the cool down after aerobic exercise. You should never stretch at the beggining before your body is warmed up. Warming up is doing something slow that mimics the exercise you are going to do. - 7/2/2011 5:50:13 AM
  • Confusing part in the article: "What counts as aerobic exercise?
    Any activity can count as cardio/aerobic exercise as long as it meets the 3 requirements above (frequency of 3-5 days a week, moderate intensity, and lasts at least 20 minutes per session)."

    The frequency part confuses me - if someone runs only 2 days a week, is that no longer considered aerobic? - 5/3/2011 12:18:45 PM
  • This is a fantastic article! I am a Fitness/Nutrition advisor as well as a Personal Trainer, AND a very proud Spark member. While training for my certification, my reference material was all Spark related information. I am on Spark everyday, whether it's getting a new recipe, or just for motivation. Thank you Spark!!! - 5/3/2011 11:32:51 AM
  • The cool down process allows the the body and heart rate to return to it's resting state - 5/3/2011 11:21:11 AM
  • Stretching is not an aerobic exercise, and should be done prior to any exercise. Stretching is anearobic, not requiring oxygen to the muscles. Stretching conditions the muscles to prevent injury while exercising. - 5/3/2011 11:18:56 AM
  • OUTDOORSDC
    I really wish they would add different types of yoga to the fitness tracker. - 1/21/2011 8:56:15 AM
  • @BBETH121555: They didn't mention stretching specifically, but it does say "Always cool down at least 5-10 minutes at the end of your activity." - 1/21/2011 8:36:10 AM
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