Carving out the time for regular exercise is essential to achieve optimal health. One important component of an exercise program is aerobic conditioning, which may also be referred to as cardiorespiratory fitness.
Aerobic conditioning involves training the heart and lungs to supply oxygen more efficiently to the organs and muscles of the body during sustained exercise. Cardiorespiratory fitness is important for several reasons, including weight management, disease prevention and improved heart and lung function.
What Is Aerobic Conditioning?
Aerobic conditioning involves training the heart and lungs to become more efficient in pumping blood throughout the body. Aerobic conditioning is accomplished through regular aerobic exercise.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercise is a continuous activity, using large muscle groups, which causes the heart and lungs to work harder. The heart and lungs have to work harder during aerobic exercise in order to meet the body’s increased demand for oxygen.
The additional workload placed on the heart and lungs causes both to become stronger over time. As the heart gets stronger, it does not have to beat as fast to transport blood to the organs and muscles in the body and it works more efficiently.
There are many health benefits, which occur as a result of aerobic conditioning, including the following:
- Heart function improves: Aerobic conditioning strengthens the heart, which means it does not have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body. In addition, blood pressure is reduced. Aerobic conditioning can also increase levels of good cholesterol and reduces the chances of coronary artery disease from developing.
- Prevents diseases: Aerobic conditioning has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and may also improve the function of the immune system.
- Improves circulation: The diameter of blood vessels increases as a result of aerobic conditioning, which improves circulation.
- Decreases stress: According to Harvard Health Publications, aerobic conditioning can reduce stress hormones in the body. In addition, chemicals known as endorphins are released during aerobic types of exercise, which can improve mood and help promote relaxation.
Types Of Exercise
Although a well-rounded exercise program will include strength training and stretching, aerobic conditioning is accomplished through aerobic exercise, which is also called cardiovascular exercise. There are several types of cardiovascular exercise, which can be part of an aerobic conditioning program, such as swimming, running, biking, rowing and aerobic dance classes. The best type of exercise to participate in is one that you enjoy and will commit to.
Since one of the goals of aerobic conditioning is to improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs, it is critical to work hard enough to get the benefits. Intensity of aerobic conditioning is often measured by heart rate. According to the American Council on Exercise, exercise should be performed at between 50 and 80 percent of maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
How Much Exercise Is Needed?
It is essential to understand how frequently to exercise and for how long in order to get the best results and benefits. Although any aerobic exercise is better than none, there are certain recommendations to gain the most health benefits. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic conditioning each week. Exercise sessions can be broken down into 30 to 60 minute workouts several days per week. Intensity should be moderate to vigorous during each session. For additional health benefits, aerobic conditioning can be increased to 300 minutes per week.
Precautions And Injury Prevention
Although most people can participate in aerobic conditioning, individuals who have a history of serious medical problems may want to talk with their doctor first. People who are new to aerobic exercise should start out slow and gradually increase the time and intensity of exercise.
Injuries from overuse during aerobic exercise are common, but can be prevented in many cases. Switching the type of exercise you participate in every few weeks can help prevent injuries from over use. Warming up prior to increasing intensity is critical during aerobic conditioning to prevent injury.
During recovery from illness or injury, special considerations may be needed regarding aerobic conditioning, such as decreased intensity and duration. In addition, pregnancy may also cause some restrictions. Although most women can continue to participate in aerobic conditioning during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult a physician to determine if there are any contraindications.
Aerobic conditioning is one way to take control of your health and make positive changes. It may not always be easy to get started, but the rewards of aerobic conditioning can include improved mood, better health and an overall feeling of well-being. Setting goals, rewarding yourself and enlisting a workout buddy may help you stick with your aerobic conditioning program.