‘Aerobic’ means with air or oxygen, hence aerobics is a form of exercise where a group of large muscles are moved rhythmically for some time and are low in intensity, while breathing naturally. This form is aimed at improving the overall body fitness like flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. It can be done solo or in groups with or without music in background.
The exercise form is simple to start and follow. There are rhythmic movements of the body parts and large muscles of the body. The aim is to increase oxygen demand and make the body take in more oxygen. The movements are continuous to ensure a steady, continued intake of oxygen while maintaining 60-80% of the maximum heart rate. The heart is made to perform more thus improving its capacity.
Like any form of exercise, aerobics too have a warm-up phase, exercise phase i.e. aerobic moves and a cool-down phase. Aerobic moves can be performed with low intensity for people with certain health concerns, while those who are fit can accordingly enjoy the high back and forth moves.
Aerobics has its roots back in 1968, when Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, an air force physician in Texas, published a book named “Aerobics”, about this exercise system. Sometime after this publication, aerobics was popularized amongst masses by developing a series of dance form known as aerobic dance. This was based on the concept of aerobic exercise for cardiovascular benefit. This then spread from the US to many countries and is now a very popular form of fitness exercise.
There are various benefits offered by aerobic exercises, of which cardiovascular benefits are most popularly known but there are other benefits as well.
1. Cardiovascular benefits
With aerobics, the body takes in more oxygen and the heart rate that is maintained, makes the heart and lungs to perform more efficiently.
- It conditions the heart and makes it use oxygen more efficiently. This strengthens the heart muscles and the overall capacity of the body improves.
- All these can ultimately improve the functioning of the heart and lungs.
- This type of cardiovascular exercise is one of the parameters required to prevent the risk of heart diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
2. General benefits
Aerobics is a great form of exercise for the whole body.
- When accompanied with required diet, it can help in controlling body weight by reducing the body fat. Performing aerobics regularly can help to prevent obesity and manage weight.
- It improves vigor, strength, muscle tone, and makes the body supple.
- It supports the release of endorphins, which can help in relieving stress and recovering mood, anxiety or depression. It can help in improving the quality of sleep and makes the body feel less fatigued.
- The body strength and overall health can be improved by regular aerobics.
Some basic types of aerobics include:
- Water aerobics or aqua aerobics
Aerobic exercises are performed in a water pool. This is a brilliant way to burn the excess fat, build muscle strength and lose weight and not feel the weight of the body. This is particularly helpful for overweight people or people suffering from arthritis or backaches, where it becomes difficult for them to perform other exercises.
2. Dance aerobics
In this, exercises and dance movements are mixed to form an exercise pattern and it is performed with music in the background. These are light exercise movements and do not involve rigorous dancing steps.
3. Sport aerobics
This incorporates gymnastic elements in the aerobic steps. This form can be undertaken by athletes or individuals aiming to participate in sports. It is officially adopted as a gymnastic type.
4. Step aerobics
Step aerobics is a latest version of traditional aerobic exercise. Gin Miller, in 1989, who was a competitive gymnast herself found this type of aerobics.
Step aerobics offer low impact option for aerobic lovers. In this there is use of a stepping platform to step upon during the exercise moves. The height of the platform is adjustable so it can be positioned according to individual requirements and capacity. They provide all the benefits of traditional aerobics and are equally enjoyable.
Aerobics can be enjoyed by anyone, at any age and can be performed even at home. However, certain rules must be kept in mind and performed accordingly. Also, before beginning with any exercise regimen it is better to get yourself evaluated. In case there are any specific health concerns an advice from a specialist is the best.