Aerobic exercise led the fitness charge decades ago when Jane Fonda donned her leotard and leggings to encourage women of all ages to get fit. Today the Mayo Clinic confirms that regular aerobic exercise will help lengthen your life, improve your health, strengthen your heart and help you lose weight. Retro-aerobics classes are eternally available at any health club, but they're not the only way to go when you're looking for aerobic exercise routines.
Interval training used to be practiced almost exclusively by professional athletes, but don't let that deter you from giving it a try, especially if you're looking for a change in your workout to overcome a plateau. It's simple to start an interval training routine or to modify your current routine into interval training. The Mayo Clinic describes it as alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of light activity. A sample routine given on ExRx.net gives swimming and running as examples. If you are a runner, you might want to give interval training a try by integrating jogging and brisk walking in with bursts of running.
Circuit training is an efficient way to incorporate resistance training with aerobic exercise. You essentially get two workouts in the amount of time it takes to complete one. Circuit training is usually set up with eight to 10 exercises that you perform continuously and consecutively, one after another. Each set is either done for a predetermined amount of time (60 seconds, for instance) or for a specific number of reps (12 to 15) before moving to the next exercise and going through the entire circuit two or three times. Circuit training is versatile because you can do it with or without equipment or do a circuit combining equipment and nonequipment exercises. An example of an effective circuit would include pushups, low rows using a machine, 60 seconds on the stationary bike, bench press, situps, calf raises, lat pulldowns and finish up with another 60 seconds on the bike. You can either do full-body circuits or concentrate on muscle groups, whatever you prefer.
Water aerobics is by no means new on the aerobic exercise scene, but it is just as effective as ever in giving you a rigorous resistance and aerobic workout without stressing your joints. Whether you decide on water aerobics for the great workout alone or because you want to continue working out while recuperating from an injury, you'll feel the positive effects on the first day. A typical water aerobics class might include running forward and backward, leaping forward, jumping jacks and running in circles. The resistance of the water takes the stress off your joints while at the same time increasing resistance on your muscles.
When you think of an aerobics class, pictures of a dance routine probably come to mind. The fact is that the current trend in aerobic workouts incorporates fun dance steps with fitness moves into routines that burn calories and tone and sculpt your body. Zumba classes are an example of the newest fad in aerobics classes. Performed to upbeat Latin music, the instructor teaches the class a few simple steps at a time. The workout integrates dance steps and hip shakes with biceps curls, lunges and similar fitness moves. Certified Zumba instructor Nicole Reamon cautions that if you have knee or lower-back issues, you should let your instructor know. The instructor will teach you some lower-impact alternative moves so you'll still be able to enjoy an aerobic workout with Zumba.
- Mayo Clinic: Aerobic Exercise
- ExRx.net: Interval Training
- Shapefit: Circuit Training Workouts
- Matt Siaperas, personal trainer; Hardbodies Gym; Blackfoot, Idaho
- Shapefit: Aqua Training Workouts
- IdeaFit; Zumba...What to Expect in Class; Nicole Reamon, certified Zumba instructor
- Mayo Clinic: Interval Training
- Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images