Cardiovascular exercise in some form or another has existed throughout the centuries. However, it wasn’t until 1968 when Jackie Sorenson created the first dance aerobic system that the aerobic craze began to blossom. Rising to popularity in 1987, aerobics are designed to enhance endurance while simultaneously reducing body fat stores. While advertisements for aerobic classes and routines claim to shed pounds like melting butter off your frame, what is the true value of aerobics for women?
Bone Mineral Density
In women, the peak of bone mass is achieved by 18 years of age. However, as women age their bone mineral density begins to decrease. This withdrawal of bone density peaks in post-menopausal women. Although many factors determine the loss of bone minerals, such as hormones and lifestyle behaviors, aerobics and other forms of weight-bearing physical activity can counteract bone density loss. A study published in the 1990 issue of the “Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport” journal found that after a 10-month exercise study, women who engaged in aerobics experienced a 1.33 percent increase in bone mineral content and bone width. The 1995 issue of the “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research” found that after a two-year exercise program, which consisted of aerobics and resistance training, women aged 20 to 35 years experienced positive benefits in bone mineral density.
Abdominal Fat Loss (Central Obesity)
Abdominal fat, also referred to as central obesity, in women increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. While aerobic exercise can promote total body weight loss, a study published in the “International SportMed Journal” found aerobics significantly reduced abdominal fat in 29 out of 49 obese female participants.
A long-standing theory is that aerobic exercise can improve mood. This theory is supported by the 2008 study published in the “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.” Within this study, researchers found that those who regularly engaged in aerobic exercise experience a drop in daily fatigue and an increase in mood. What’s more interesting, the positive effects of cardiovascular activity were only found in participants who regularly exercise. In fact, the mood-enhancing quality of exercise is twice as potent when compared to those who rarely exercise. A female-specific study published in the 1993 issue of “Health Care for Women International” found that after engaging in an aerobics class, women experienced a significant increase in mood. In this study, the mood-enhancing benefits of aerobics were similar among those who exercised regularly and those who did not.
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Aerobics activity has been shown to decrease mortality rates linked to coronary artery disease among men and women. A study published in the 2007 issue of the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” found women who engaged in aerobics and other forms of physical activity experienced a significant decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.
- Aerobic.org: Aerobic History
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases: Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass in Women
- Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport: Effects of Exercise on Bone Mineral Content in Postmenopausal Women
- Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: A Two-Year Program of Aerobics and Weight Training Enhances Bone Mineral Density of Young Women
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking – and Keeping – It Off
- International Sport Med Journal: The Effects of an Eight-Week Step-Aerobic Dance Exercise Programme on Body Composition Parameters in Middle-Aged Sedentary Obese Women
- Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Exercisers Achieve Greater Acute Exercise-Induced Mood Enhancement Than Nonexercisers
- Health Care for Women International: Mood Changes in Women After an Aerobics Class: A Preliminary Study
- Postgraduate Medicine: Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
- American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Updating the Evidence on Physical Activity and Health in Women
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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