Aerobics strengthens and conditions several of your body's functions.
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Aerobic exercises require your body to respond and adapt to continuous activity for sustained periods. Anaerobic activity, such as lifting weights, occurs in much shorter durations. Physical demands on your body are different during aerobics than during anaerobic activity. To do an aerobic workout, your body must use five physical components -- energy production, aerobic capacity, muscle and joint function, cardiovascular endurance and aerobic intensity.
Aerobic energy is very efficient. During aerobics, your body is producing energy using glucose, oxygen and fatty acids. Most of the glucose your body uses during aerobics comes from your blood and liver. Higher-intensity activities such as running or jumping rope get the majority of energy from glucose within your blood. Lower-intensity aerobic activities such as walking or light gardening get most of the energy requirements from fatty acids.
Aerobic means вЂњwith oxygen.вЂќ For decades, aerobics has come to refer to sustained activity requiring an increase in oxygen consumption. The maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during aerobics is a measurement of your aerobic capacity or вЂњVO2 max.вЂќ This measurement is the number of milliliters of oxygen your body consumes per minute for every kilogram of your body weight. Several factors such as body composition, heredity, level of training and age impact your aerobic capacity. With regular aerobic activity, your aerobic capacity improves as well as your ability to perform aerobics longer and faster.
During aerobics, your heart and lungs must increase activity to provide for the increasing oxygen and nutrient demands of your body. Your heart and lungs are also responsible for removing additional waste products and carbon dioxide that your body produces due to additional activity. Your cardiovascular and respiratory systems control the efficiency level of these processes and largely determine your endurance level. Cardiovascular endurance is your body's ability to maintain aerobic activity for prolonged periods. Regular aerobic activity helps improve your body's efficiency. Improving efficiency allows you to perform at a higher intensity for longer periods and means less stress on your cardiovascular system when you are at rest.
Muscles and Joints
During most aerobic activities, your muscles and joints are moving repetitively. While aerobics help to strengthen muscle and improve joint flexibility, the possibility of injury does exist. Injury potential is greater with high-impact aerobics -- exercises requiring both of your feet to come off the floor. During low-impact aerobics, one foot remains on the floor during activity. If you are just beginning aerobics and have previously been sedentary, beginning with low-impact aerobics and working up to high-impact aerobics will help prevent injury. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition recommends at least two-and-one-half hours per week of moderately intense aerobic activity.
Aerobic intensity is the amount of effort you exert during aerobic activity. Just as with your aerobic capacity, certain factors such as fitness level, age, sex and body composition affect the level of intensity you are able to sustain. Your heart rate increases as you boost your aerobic intensity. Most people gauge aerobic intensity level by the percent of maximum heart rate increase. To find your maximum heart rate if you are a male, subtract your age in years from 220. For example, a 40-year-old male would have a maximum heart rate of 180. If you are female, subtract 88 percent of your age from 206. A 40-year-old female would have a maximum heart rate of 170.8.