Aerobics Workout Program

aerobics class

Aerobics (meaning with oxygen) is a unique form of exercise that includes targeting the cardiovascular system, flexibility, coordination, strength and mental well-being.

Aerobics, depending on the specific type of aerobics performed, can facilitate targeting four of the seven key components of good health, fitness and mental well-being, and is an excellent form of exercise to incorporate into any fitness program.

Below is a list of the seven key components associated with living a healthy lifestyle that is filled with good health, fitness, and wellness:

  1. Cardiovascular/Aerobic Conditioning

  2. Strength Training and Muscular Development

  3. Stretching - Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons

  4. Core Stability

  5. Nutrition and Supplementation

  6. Mental Rest and Relaxation

  7. Sleep

Achieving your target heart rate while performing an aerobic workout is one of the prime fundamentals of this form of exercise. Maintaining your target heart rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Oxygen is a huge part of most aerobic programs, meaning that when your muscles are being stressed, they require oxygen from the air to be inhaled through the lungs, and thereafter supplied to the muscle tissue. While performing aerobics, your lungs and heart work together to provide sufficient oxygen to the soft tissues of your body.

Achieving an Aerobic Effect

In order to achieve an aerobic effect, an individual will need to perform an aerobic workout for a time period of approximately 20 to 60 minutes. This time period is extremely important, in that the amount of energy you expend, which is directly related to your metabolic rate, will immediately begin to rise between 5 and 20 times what is typically expended when inactive. This increase in metabolic rate has a very positive effect on the health and fitness of the human body when performed regularly (meaning 3 to 5 times per week).

Additional benefits derived from regularly performing an aerobic workout include lower blood pressure, lower body fat percentage, increased flexibility, coordination, balance, mind-body synergy, muscular strength, and the lessening of psychological issues such as depression, mental apathy and stress.

Types of Aerobic Exercises

aerobics class

Many exercises are an effective form of aerobics. Again, in order for a physical activity to qualify as a form of aerobic exercise, an individual's heart rate must achieve a number a beats per minute equal to or greater than their target heart rate. In addition, most aerobic routines work all major muscle groups. Many individuals do not realize that walking briskly, bicycling, swimming laps and other low-key exercises are actually a form of aerobics.

Additional aerobic exercises include stair climbers, jogging, running, rowing machines, and any other form of exercise that allows the individual to achieve their target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.

Sports that include a hard sprint, or a short burst of energy, followed by a period of moderate inactivity are not considered effective aerobic workouts. To partake in an aerobic activity it is necessary to achieve your target heart rate and maintain that heart rate level for a minimum of 20 minutes. For example, basketball and tennis are typically considered activities that facilitate an aerobic workout. The most important items to consider when determining which types of aerobic activities to participate in are as follows:

  1. Are there any physical limitations that will inhibit you from participating in the aerobic activity?

  2. Is the aerobic activity readily available for you to participate in? Many aerobic activities are reliant on your access to a certain type of facility or natural feature, with swimming and rock climbing being obvious examples.

  3. Does participating in the aerobic activity fit into your schedule? Competitive sports typically involve more complicated logistics and larger time commitments than individual exercises such as running, which requires very little time before and after the actual exercise session.

  4. Do you have the dedication and determination to "stick" to the aerobic activity? If you don't end up enjoying the activity, you won't be motivated to continue it.

  5. If the aerobic activity costs money, do you have the monetary budget to support the activity? Certain activities, such as golf, may require expensive membership or "pay-to-play" fees.

  6. Do you have the necessary equipment and apparel to participate in the aerobic activity? Activities such as hockey and cycling require lots of equipment, while walking and jogging require little more than a solid pair of shoes.

  7. Do you enjoy participating in the specific aerobic activity? It's fine if you don't, so long as you have an open mind and some interest in performing the activity. If you don't enjoy it, you can always try a different activity.

  8. Can you perform the aerobic activity year-round or will you need to choose a different aerobic activity at different times of the year? Activities such as snowshoeing and skiing are obviously restricted to the winter, while many aerobic activities can only be practiced in the spring, summer and fall barring access to certain indoor facilities.

It is important to give some thought to the actual aerobic activity that you are going to perform, as many individuals quit their aerobic workout within the first three months. Hence, by choosing an aerobic activity you actually enjoy, you will increase your probability of making the aerobic activity a part of your fitness lifestyle.

In addition, if you choose to achieve your aerobic workout via a treadmill, you will need to understand the exact muscle groups that are being worked out, and thereafter supplement your workout with additional physical activity to ensure all major muscle groups are being appropriately exercised.

Benefits of Each Aerobic Exercise

benefits of aerobic conditioning

It is important to note that many forms of aerobic activity facilitate a full-body workout. Certain aerobic exercises tend to provide not only a total body workout, but a more targeted workout as well.

For example, if an individual participates in basketball, they have the ability to achieve an aerobic effect, exercise all primary muscle groups, and target their legs with a higher level of physical activity. If swimming is an individual's aerobic activity choice, they will be able to achieve an aerobic effect, exercise all primary muscle groups, and stretch and elongate their muscles, ligaments and tendons as well.

Another example of an aerobic activity where a set of specific muscles are primarily being targeted is the stationary bike.

While an individual will be able to achieve an aerobic effect and exercise their lower body, the effects on the upper body and the stretching of the muscles, ligaments and tendons will be minimal.

An additional benefit associated with performing an aerobic activity is that the exercises reduce an individual's percentage of body fat, regardless of what aerobic activity is chosen. This benefit is simply due to the fact that aerobic activity burns calories. Aerobic activity also provides the individual with a feeling of well-being and calmness, while at the same time controlling or decreasing an individual's blood pressure.

Making the Right Choice for You

Choosing the correct aerobic exercise is an important step. The criteria that you should follow (provided earlier in this article) will assist in establishing an aerobic workout that is enjoyable, effective and longstanding.

Creating a list of aerobic exercises and sports that you have enjoyed in the past is an excellent way to start the process of choosing your aerobic exercise regimen. In fact, you may even have a sport you have always wanted to delve into, but never had the chance. After completing your aerobic activity list, use a numbering system to determine which activities are your favorites. Thereafter, begin the aerobic activities or sports that you rated the highest and evaluate whether they are the activities that you truly enjoy before making any type of commitment.


In addition, it is also beneficial to have the ideal workout location readily available and conveniently located. For example, if your aerobic activity of choice is to swim, you will need to find a year-round swimming pool that has open swimming during the time, or times, that you plan on performing your swimming routine.

If you are planning on walking or running, an indoor/outdoor track or sufficient neighborhood sidewalk will help make your experience more enjoyable. A community center or fitness center will typically provide a large array of cardiovascular equipment (i.e. stair climbers, stationary bikes, ellipticals, rowing machines, circuit training machines, etc.) as well as aerobic classes.

The primary objective of an aerobic activity is to achieve your target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. By doing so at a frequency of 3 to 5 times per week, you will truly be on a path to achieving a life that is filled with good health, fitness and mental well-being. For additional information related to cardiovascular fitness please visit the Cardiovascular section of our web site.