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Best Aerobic Exercises

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Absolute Best Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercise will soon become the foundation of your fitness routine. It is the primary way that youíll improve your cardiovascular (or aerobic) fitness, which in turn will increase your metabolism. Remember that cardiovascular fitness refers to the ability of your heart, lungs and arteries to deliver oxygen (which is carried in the blood) to working muscles, and your musclesí ability to use that oxygen to perform work over a particular period of time. By increasing your level of cardiovascular fitness, you are increasing the rate that your body can burn calories. I canít stress enough how important this is!

In general, the more aerobic an exercise is, the greater effect it will have on your aerobic enzymes (which help you burn more fat), cardiovascular fitness, and metabolismóand ultimately your percentage of body fat.

Itís important that you:

ē exercise aerobically five to seven days each week
ē exercise in the zone (at level seven or eight)
ē exercise for 20 to 60 minutes each exercise session.

In any given week, itís best to perform more than one type of aerobic exercise. This technique is called cross-training and leads to an overall higher level of fitness because a greater number of muscles become more highly trained at burning calories. You will also be less prone to overuse injuries when you vary the types of aerobic exercises that you perform. The most effective are those that cause you to support all or most of your own body weight. My ďAĒ list of the most effective aerobic exercises:

1) Power walking
2) Jogging
3) Aerobic dancing
4) Stair climbing

Power Walking

Aerobic rating: 7-8
Convenience rating: 10
Risk of injury rating: Low
Overall rating: 9
This exercise is appropriate for: Just about everyone.
This exercise is not appropriate for: Anyone with orthopedic complications that make walking impossible or difficult. Also, very fit individuals who would benefit from a more vigorous activity.

Power walking is my favorite overall aerobic exercise, and itís the one most people should start with. The majority of my clients power walk for at least some of their weekly exercise.

Be sure you are power walking and not just walking. You need to use good posture: Keep your chin up and look straight out in front of you; be sure your shoulders are pulled up and back. Keep your arms bent at a 90 degree angle and swing them with your fists coming up to shoulder level before swinging back down.

If you power walk consistently, your pace should get faster the more you do it. This is a sign your cardiovascular system is getting stronger and your metabolism is revving up. Iíll tell you a secret: As your pace gets faster, your percentage of body fat is decreasing.

Power walking performed on a treadmill has the distinct advantage of allowing you to control the grade, or hill. It also allows you not to be dependent on the weather.


Aerobic rating: 10
Convenience rating: 10
Risk of injury rating: Moderate to high
Overall rating: 8

This exercise is appropriate for: Relatively fit individuals with no orthopedic or medical complications.

This exercise is not appropriate for: Beginning exercisers. Anyone with orthopedic complications that jogging would aggravate. Those whom a physician would not clear for vigorous exercise. This may include individuals with heart disease, lung disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or smokers.

Jogging is a highly aerobic activity and can produce quick weight-loss results. Like power walking, it can be performed on a treadmill so you can control the grade and exercise regardless of the weather.

Aerobic Dancing

Aerobic rating: 8
Convenience rating: 7
Risk of injury rating: Low for low-impact aerobics; moderate to high for high-impact aerobics
Overall rating: 7
This exercise is appropriate for: Individuals of all fitness levels. Those who enjoyrhythmic exercise as well as group exercise.
This exercise is not appropriate for: Anyone with orthopedic complications that aerobic dance movements would aggravate.

Aerobic dance can provide a fun way to accomplish your weekly exercise minutes. There are so many types of classes these days (click here for details on different classes) that itís hard to get bored with this activity.

Keep in mind that there is high- and low-impact aerobic dancing. I recommend the low-impact variety; youíll have much less risk of overuse and impact injuries. Luckily, these days most classes are the low-impact type. Itís also best to attend a class taught by a knowledgeable instructor, preferably one certified by either the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).

Stair Climbing

Aerobic rating: 10
Convenience rating: 8
Risk of injury rating: Moderate
Overall rating: 8
This exercise is appropriate for: Those who can meet the strenuous demands of stair climbing.
Those who have limited amount of time to exercise and want a time-efficient, concentrated aerobic workout.
This exercise is not appropriate for: Anyone with orthopedic or medical complications that the intense nature of stair climbing would aggravate,. This includes people with high blood pressure and smokers.

Stair climbing is actually a slightly different exercise than stair stepping, which requires the use of a stair-stepping machine and is on my ďBĒ list of effective aerobic exercise. Stair climbing is performed on actual stairs, such as those that may be found in your home or at a stadium. Climbing actual stairs is a fully weight-supporting exercise and is more aerobic that stair stepping on a machine. This is a great aerobic activity; however, you may have to build up to being able to perform it continuously for a minimum of 10 minutes. Simply walk up the stairs to the top, and then walk back down. Since going up is much more strenuous than going down, you should maintain the proper intensity by going down the stairs more quickly than you go up.


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