Name one health problem that aerobic exercises cannot fix. Scientific evidence shows that aerobics or cardio is a one-stop solution to most 21st century problems. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stress, and even certain cancers (1), (2), (3)!
But this is what most of us are guilty of…
- Spending most of the time watching the latest Netflix/HBO show.
- Taking an Uber instead of walking or biking.
- Has Netflix’s one-month free subscription ended? Bring out the PlayStation.
- Playing “stare” with the friend instead of getting the door.
On the surface, it seems funny. Only, it’s not. Over the past two decades, obesity rose from 16.8% to 18.5% in youth and 33.7% to 39.6% in adults in the US (4). This, in turn, has given rise to various health problems. Not to forget the huge medical bills. But, there’s one way out – fun, mood-boosting aerobic/cardio exercises.
In this post, relearn the benefits of aerobic exercises. Reinvent your inner strength. Re-energize your muscles and brain. Let’s begin!
Difference Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercise
Exercise can be aerobic or anaerobic. Aerobic exercises, popularly known as cardio, use up oxygen. The heart gets pumping, your breathing improves, you take in more oxygen, and oxygen fuels the fat burning process.
On the other hand, anaerobic exercises do not use oxygen. Instead, they use energy stores (like fat) to perform the exercise sets and reps. These exercises are mostly short bursts of high-intensity exercises (for example, 30 jump squats, 35 high knees, 20 mountain climbers continuously). As you do not have time to breathe, oxygen is not used to fuel the high-intensity exercises.
You might think that anaerobic exercises are better for burning fat. But imagine doing 30 jump squats, 35 high knees, 20 mountain climbers in one go and then skipping working out the whole week because of muscle cramps and fatigue. Cardio or aerobic exercises are a great way to get started with exercising. They have as many benefits as anaerobic exercises do. Let’s check out what those benefits are.
Benefits Of Aerobic Exercises
- Aid weight loss
- Lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Lower blood lipid levels
- Reduce the risk of diabetes
- Slow down aging
- Promote brain plasticity
- Help fight certain types of cancers
Playing “stare” is not going to help. Get up and include the following aerobic exercises in your fitness routine. Scroll down!
15 Aerobic Exercises You Can Include In Your Fitness Routine
Aerobic Exercises You Can Do At Home
1. Jump Rope
The reasons rope jumping is first on this list are (a) it is an amazing warm-up exercise, and (b) it is a full body exercise that does not require you to move your body too much. All you have to do is jump and prevent yourself from tripping over. It gets your heart rate up and can burn around 200 calories in just 10 minutes! But, let’s not get too ambitious. Jumping rope continuously for 10 minutes is tough, especially if you are not in the habit of doing so. Take it slow, wear proper shoes, and increase the time as you progress.
2. Running Or Jogging
Ever feel like running when it gets too stressful? Well, that’s exactly what running helps reduce – stress. When you jog or run, your mind is more focused on preventing you from falling, your heart rate is up, you breathe fast, and you sweat. After 10 minutes, when you are out of breath, you will not be able to focus on the things that are bothering you. Running is a great way to burn 100-200 calories depending on the speed, time, and your current weight.
If you have bad knees, it is best not to run. Instead, walk. Walking is as effective as running and is soft on your joints. Walking every day on the treadmill or in the park will burn around 100 calories per mile, depending on your weight and intensity of walking. Start walking slowly and then walk briskly for a minute. Slow down again. Stop and take rest if you need to.
If you want to add more fun to your workout, join a dance class. I am a fan of dancing! And Hip Hop draws me like a magnet. You can choose any form of dance – Cha Cha, Bachata, Contemporary (great for stretching and flexibility), Bollywood, Salsa, Ballet, or anything that you want to learn. If you are too busy or have loans to pay off (just another way of saying you are broke), blast music in your room and dance your feet out. Create your own dance style by mixing all the dance styles known to humankind. You sweat. You enjoy. You feel amazing!
5. Jumping Jacks
We often jump right into the main exercises without a proper warm-up. The jumping jack is a fun warm-up exercise. It helps to wake up the muscles in your body and burn about 50 calories if you do 3 sets of 30 jumping jacks with 10 seconds rest betweenevery set. Mix it up with other calorie burning exercises to get an effective 10-20-minute workout.
6. Butt Kicks
This one, literally, is a kickass exercise! It is a modified version of jogging on the spot, which can help slim and tone your glutes, thighs, calves, and lower belly region. It is a great calorie burner and can help improve your strength and muscle endurance. Make sure you wear good shoes to prevent knee injury. Here’s how to do it.
7. Squat Jacks
Much like jumping jacks but not really jumping jacks! Now, don’t let your imagination run wild and think about a weird exercise where you do a leg split while you are squatting. In this fun and effective exercise, you will do a jumping jack and squat down. Squat jacks target the legs, glutes, and belly region. Doing 3 sets of 15 squat jacks can get you sweating and burn about 50-60 calories. Mix it up with other exercises to hit your target calorie burn. Here’s how to do squat jacks.
If you thought that squat jacks got your fat burning, think again! Say hello to the burpee – the top most effective fat-burning aerobic exercise. You can burn around 500 calories if you do burpees nonstop for an hour. That’s impractical! While doing burpees, aim to achieve better body posture instead of focusing on the duration. Doing the exercise wrong can hurt your knees and back. Here’s a video of how to do a burpee.
If you want to get rid of thigh and leg fat, try lunging. This exercise looks simple, but it is a great leg slimmer. It works on the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and lower abdomen. You can burn anywhere between 50-200 calories depending on the intensity, time, and your current weight. Here’s how to do it.
Swimming is one of the best full body workouts that can help you burn about 500-600 calories in 30 minutes, improve muscle tone, lose weight, and relieve stress. You can learn various strokes or walk along the sides of the pool (do not go to the deeper side if you are not a swimmer) in the initial stage.
Aerobic Exercises To Do In The Gym
Be it outdoors or indoors, rowing is an amazing upper body toning and strengthening exercise (just take one look at the rowing crew at Harvard!). You will burn around 300 calories in 30 minutes and can lose the excess fat on your upper body. At the gym, you can row on a rowing machine. Make sure you don’t put too many weights initially. Also, take care of the position of your feet, knees, back, and the muscles used. You may also go on kayaking trips or join a crew club in your area.
Boxing is more a test of your mind than your body strength. You will learn how to improve body coordination, balance, strength, and muscle tone and start thinking two steps ahead of the opponent. Not just the calorie burn, the stress release and the thrill of fighting like Rocky Balboa or daydreaming about winning the National Boxing Championship will keep you from giving up too soon.
13. Stationary Bike
Picture this. It has been raining since morning, and you cannot go to the gym or outside for a quick run or on a biking adventure. Why not jump on a stationary bike and get yourself moving for at least 20 minutes? It is an amazing exercise to get your blood circulation going. It burns around 200-300 calories and tones your legs, glutes, and lower abdomen. Be careful about the saddle, positioning, and resistance to make the workout effective. Read this post to get the hang of it.
If a stationary bike wears you out or bores you, try the elliptical. Why? Well, for starters, it burns about 300-400 calories if you are in the weight range of 160-175 pounds. And there’s more! The machine is designed in a way to give you a full body workout. Meaning, you can get slim and toned arms, legs, and belly. Intrigued? Learn more about it here.
Aerobic Exercises To Do In A Class
Zumba is what got me into shape. It is a great form of cardio, and you can have a lot of fun with friends! Zumba burns about 500 calories in 60 minutes, i.e., you can burn about 2500 calories if you do Zumba for at least an hour for five days a week. It also has many health benefits. Read this post to know all about Zumba.
These 15 amazing aerobic exercises will definitely help you tone up, reduce stress, and lower the risk of various health issues. Enjoy watching your favorite show, but make sure that you are physically active. Along with doing these exercises, walk to your nearby grocery store instead of driving there. Take the stairs (great way to lunge!) instead of the elevator. And please, get up and get the door!
- “Health benefits of aerobic exercise.” Postgraduate Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Acute effects of aerobic exercise promote learning” Scientific Reports, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Staying Active” Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health.
- “Obesity Rates Continue to Rise Among Adults in the US” American Cancer Society.