When we think of aerobic exercise, images of Jane Fonda wannabes dressed in leg warmers and lycra often are conjured. The sounds of Olivia Newtown John, “Let’s Get Physical” may also play in our heads with visions of off the shoulder tops and matching sweatbands.
But aerobic exercise is actually a scientific term which means with oxygen and involves activity that utilizes your circulatory and respiratory system, specifically you heart and lungs. In fact, aerobic activity involves anything that gets our heart rate up such as bicycling, walking, swimming and yes, even the infamous “Grapevine” moves in the 80s Hi/Lo aerobics classes.
ScienceDaily.com describes aerobic activity as, “any type of exercise, typically those performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time that maintains an increased heart rate. Scientifically the process according to Science Daily is as follows, “In such exercise, oxygen is used to 'burn' fats and glucose in order to produce adenosine triphosphate, the basic energy carrier for all cells.”
The Mayo Clinic describes aerobic activity as activity that maximizes the amount of oxygen in our blood resulting in your heart beating faster. This, they say, “increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels (capillaries) will widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.”
Today, aerobic activity has evolved since the 80s with many alternatives and something for everyone. For the athletically-inclined, running is still a favorite with lots of run club groups to join and racing events to train for as a goal. For those who like group exercise classes, step aerobics, minus the legwarmers, is still holding its own.
However, the new craze is dance-based classes such as Zumba and ballroom-style fitness classes. If you prefer to go at it alone, there are a vast array of different style elliptical trainers, step machines, stationary bicycles and treadmills at most health clubs.