Aerobics refer to a variety of exercises that stimulate heart and lung activity for a time period sufficiently long to produce beneficial changes in the body. Running, swimming, cycling, and jogging – these are typical aerobic exercises. There are many others.
Aerobics offers you an ample choice of different forms of exercise, including many popular sports.
They have one thing in common: by making you work hard, they demand plenty of oxygen.
That’s the basic idea. That’s what makes them aerobic.
The main objective of an aerobic exercise program is to increase the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can process within a given time. This is called your aerobic capacity.
It is dependent upon an ability to 1) rapidly breathe large amounts of air
2) forcefully deliver large volumes of blood and 3) effectively deliver oxygen to all parts of the body.
In short: it depends upon efficient lungs, a powerful heart, and a good vascular system.
Because it reflects the conditions of these vital organs, the aerobic capacity is the best index of overall physical fitness.
Collectively, the changes induced by exercise in the various systems and organs of the body are called the training effect. Unless the exercise is of sufficient intensity and duration, it will not produce a training effect and cannot be classified as an aerobic exercise.
However, this distinction between aerobic and non-aerobic exercises is a laboratory determination, too technical for routine use. Therefore, the point system utilized in the aerobics conditioning program was developed to make this distinction for you.If the program is followed exactly and the required point goals are reached, an adequate training effect is assured.
Specifically, aerobic exercise produces a training effect and increase the capacity to utilize oxygen in several ways:
1. It strengthens the muscles of respiration and tends to reduce the resistance to air flow,
ultimately facilitating the rapid flow of air in and out of the lungs.
2. It improves the strength and pumping efficiency of the heart, enabling more blood to be pumped with each stroke. This improves the ability to more rapidly transport life-sustaining oxygen from the lungs to the heart and ultimately to all parts of the body.
3. It tones up muscles throughout the body, thereby improving the general circulation,
at times lowering blood pressure and reducing the work on the heart.
4. It causes an increase in the total amount of blood circulating through the body and increases the number of red blood cells and the amount of hemoglobin, making the blood a more efficient oxygen carrier.
None of this is speculation. The anatomic and biochemical changes characteristic for the
training effect have been documented in the laboratory many times.
The training effect is the goal of an aerobic conditioning program. The means of achieving
that goal is also provided by the program. That is the purpose of the point charts
Here lies the unique merit of the aerobic system: you can measure your own progress
as if you were being monitored in a medical research laboratory.
All you need is the point chart and a stopwatch. It is as if you have put the lab in your pocket.
Many people ask:”What is so important about points? Why isn’t it sufficient just to add up
the total distance you walk or run?” To answer these questions I like to mention an experience Dr. Kenneth Cooper had with two active runners in their early forties, comparable in weight and height, who came to his laboratory for an evaluation on the treadmill.
Both men were running two miles, five days a week. I assumed that their level of fitness was comparable but was quite surprised at the result of their treadmill test.
One of the gentlemen was clearly in excellent condition but the other barely passed.
Why the difference?
I was perplexed until I asked another question: “How fast do you run your two miles?”
The first averaged between 13:30 and 14:00 minutes, whereas the second took over 20:00 minutes. The first was a runner and the other a jogger.It was quite clear that Dr Cooper needed to consider another factor than distance: the time.
You achieve a greater training effect if you put more effort into your exercise.
Consequently, the point system was developed so that Dr. Cooper knew exactlyhow much
effort was being expended. In hundreds of subsequent studies it was discovered that it is
easy to predict oxygen consumption and fitness based on points but difficult to predict it
on miles alone. If you are running 20 miles per week, it’s not sure what your level of fitness
will be, but if you are averaging 100 points per week, you are in excellent condition.
The aerobic point system was derived from laboratory messurements of the oxygen cost
of the exercise, as well as from data obtained in field tests. For the user of the charts, all
that is necessary is to understand that the aerobic points refer to the energy expended,
that is, more oxygen consumed by the body at a faster rate.
In short, the point system measures the energy cost of the exercise.
For example, if you run a mile in 11:30 minutes, you can earn 3 points, but if you run the
mile in 8:30 minutes, you get 4 points. That means: Throughout the aerobic charts
shorter completion times means more points. Because your heart and lungs work harder,
that’s why you get more points for the shorter time span.
Because the point charts let you measure the amount of effort you expend, you can now
take exercise in progressive dosis, and this is vital important. In fact, it is the key to
the aerobic conditioning program.
The body must gradually adjust itself to increasing amounts of exercise.
Too much too fast can be as damaging as too little too late.
For the point system to work properly, four separate age brackets were established:
under 30, 30 to 39, 40 to 49 and 50 and over.
This permits to use a different approach for the older age groups.
Age is not a major obstacle to fitness. No matter what age bracket you belong to,
you can reach a statisfactory level of fitness.
Different people have different objectives in their quest for fitness.
No matter what your particular exercise aim may be, the most important thing is to
achieve it safely. After all, you want to gain your health, not lose it.That’s why
a thorough fhysical examination should be the very first step on your road to fitness.
As you grow older, the efficiency of your heart and lungs gradually decreases.
One of the benefits of aerobic exercise is that it slows down this aspect of aging
and to some degree helps you to retain your youthful fitness.
But if you have not been exercising regularly, you should observe certain age restrictions
when you consider starting an exercise program.
If you are younger than 30 years, unless you have some obvious medical problem,
you can enter any type of an exercise program. Jogging, swimming, cycling – no restrictions.Just choose one that you enjoy.
If you are between 30 and 50 years of age, you are still good for almost everything.
You have your choice of sports. But if you plan to do some of the more strenuous exercises,
be sure you get your doctor’s specific approval of your decision.
If you are between 50 and 59 years, it would be better if you started a walking program.
Only after you have conditioned yourself by walking according to a plan, should you
consider running, jogging, or more demanding competitive sports, such as basketbal,
handball or squash. Have your doctor check you out again before you start such activities.
Otherwise you’re better off sticking with less energetic exercises, such as walking, golf,
cycling (particularly stationary cycling) and swimming.
If you are age 60 and over, if you are like most people in this age group, avoid jogging,
running and vigorous competitive sports. Walking, swimming and stationary cycling
will do you a lot more good.
However, there are exceptions for the over-60 bracket. If you have been keeping in shape
by regular exercising for many yearsso that you have built up and maintained your
aerobic capacity, you may safely participate in such vigorous activities as jogging, running,
and stationary running. You’re also free to engage in more strenuous activities if you do
your exercises in a medical supervised group.
Exercise is the medicine that keeps countless people alive. But like al medicine,
it must be taken according to prescriptions.