Aerobic Exercise is any sustained, rhythmic movement of low to moderate intensity that uses large muscles and is continued for more than 15 minutes. Activities include any motion that creates a demand on the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream.

The main fuel for aerobics are glucose (stored sugars from carbohydrates) and fatty acids (stored fat from foods). Amino acids, which result as the body digests proteins, are used very sparingly as aerobic energy. Their job is to build and repair muscles and cells.

The 10 Commandments of Aerobic Exercise

  1. Find Activities You Enjoy enough to do on a regular basis.
  2. Dress Appropriately for the terrain, movement style and temperature of your environment.
  3. Warm-Up for at least 5 minutes with gentle full-body movements and light stretches, keeping your heart rate at 35-50% of maximum.
  4. Work Within Your Target Heart Rate Zone during the main portion of the workout.
  5. Stay In That Zone for 10 (for beginners) to 60 minutes (for experienced exercisers).
  6. Listen To Your Body. More exercise isn’t always better. Avoid burnout and don’t push it when you can’t talk, feel excessively fatigued, or sense an illness coming on.
  7. Drink Water before, during, and after your workout.
  8. Avoid Overheating. Keep yourself cool in hot, humid environments.
  9. Cool-Down with gentle motions at a heart rate of 35-50% of maximum, for 3-5 minutes. Follow with stretching.
  10. Respect The Warning Signals Of Overuse. Keep variety in your activities so exercise continues to be fun.

Aerobic Energy System

1. Aerobic Glycolysis (glucose)

Fuels medium distance, sustained workouts, usually under 20 minutes.

Used in workouts of high intensity and short duration.

Fuel used is glucose formed by carbohydrates.

Fatigue sets in if the cardiovascular system is not capable of delivering oxygen to the cells, where food is turned to energy (ie. If someone is not in shape.).

2. Fatty Acids

  • check_blk Fuels longer aerobic workouts of moderate intensity lasting more than 20 minutes.
  • check_blk The fuel from fatty acids isn’t immediately available. It takes approximately 20 minutes to create the oxygen-rich atmosphere, which then triggers the sympathetic nervous system to release fat from the usual storage areas (buttocks, thighs, abdomen, etc.). Only under these conditions does fat fuel the workout.

** Optimal cardio-enhancing, endorphin producing, and fat-burning time for the average female is 30-45 minutes from the start of a warm-up. Males need only 20-30 minutes to achieve this.

Anaerobic exercise (literally, exercise that doesn’t require oxygen), typically refers to stop-and-start activities. Activities that require a quick burst of energy followed by a lull. The fuel that makes this possible comes from glycogen (stored sugar from carbohydrates). But this glycogen doesn’t need oxygen to convert its fuel- it’s immediately available in the muscles and liver.

Aerobic Energy System

1. Phosphagen

  • check1 Fuels very quick, all-out exertions that last 1-15 seconds. Before fatigue sets in.
  • check1 Fuel used is creatine phosphate.

2. Anaerobic Glycolysis (glucose)

  • check1 Fuels moderately short actions from 1-3 minutes.
  • check1 Fuel used is glucose.

Exercise Mode

Choose an activity that you enjoy. You are more likely to stick with activities you like, than those you heard are good for you. Choice of exercise may be determined by an individual’s functional capacity, time availability, equipment, facilities, and goals.

Exercise Frequency

Exercise frequency, or the number of sessions per week will depend on the duration and intensity of the exercise session. To improve cardiovascular fitness, you should aim for at least 3 times per week, with no more than two days in between each session.

Exercise Duration

Exercise duration will be related to exercise intensity and individual fitness levels. As a general guideline:

Fitness Level Length of Session
Very Low 5-10 mins
Low 10-20 mins
Average 15-45 mins
High 30-60 mins

Exercise Intensity

Those with a low fitness level can benefit from training intensities as low as 40-60% max heart rate. All others should aim for heart rates appropriate for their fitness level and goals between 55-90% max heart rate

How To Calculate Your Target Heart Rate Zone:

Target Heart Rate =(220 – age – resting heart rate) X (% intensity or % max heart rate) + resting heart rate

Example: 40 year old, resting H.R. of 90 bpm, working at 60% max heart rate.

Target Heart Rate = (220 – 40 – 90) X (60%) + 90
= 90 X (60%) + 90
= 54 + 90
= 144 bpm