300716 Aerobic Fitness
Aerobic conditioning is your body’s adaptations to working continuously with oxygen or in other words with air. It is also known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic power. The word power indicates a strong response to imposed conditions.
Cardio work is a continuous activity that puts an increased demand on the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the body. Generally, large muscle groups of the body are involved for extended periods without a break, thus the term, ‘with air’. The original term “aerobics” came from the father of cardiovascular training, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, of the famed Cooper Institute.
It is a recognized fact that aerobic conditioning accomplishes all of the following:
- It has the potential to increase life expectancy
- Improvements occur in the overall quality of life
- Overall improvements in health and well being
- Reduces fatigue and increases the adaptability to meet the challenges of each day as they arise
- It can improve appearance, posture, self confidence and self concept
- Positive body composition changes occur with regular aerobic exercise
- Muscular endurance and muscle tone changes are positive in nature
- Stress maybe reduced
- Improvements in relaxation ability and decreased sleep pattern disruptions
- Positive cardiovascular changes and improved sport performance result from aerobic exercise
- Reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol may result-studies indicate this to be true
- Increased bone density due to the impact of the jogging or running
- Seniors may become more independent
- Finally, the ability to physically meet and hopefully overcome emergency situations
In preparing to aerobically exercise, remember that aerobics are only a part of a full conditioning program. Other necessary components include flexibility, strength and power, muscle endurance and a safe healthy body composition. In other words, be able to do the task at hand without carrying excess body fat around.
The keys then would be to follow this sequence before exercising for the first time.
- Complete a Physical Activities Readiness Questionnaire aka a PAR-Q
- Speak to a doctor before beginning any exercise program
- Begin slowly in your program-consult with a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) or a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
- Always warm-up prior to exercising, get the pulse up and the breathing rate increased to meet the demands of the upcoming exercise session. After exercising then cool down and stretch.
- Follow the fitness triad prescription of flexibility, strength and cardiovascular through out the week
- Don’t overexert but stay within the guidelines for your age and experience-see number three above for a CSCS or CPT recommendation
- If you are sick or injured, don’t exercise. You can however exercise common sense and prevent any further delays in getting better by taking it easy for a short time until you are well again.
- Select a NSCA certified trainer
How hard should you exercise aerobically will be determined by your age and current physical condition. The Tanaka formula is the most precise for figuring out the target heart rate range.
Figure your target heart rate using the Tanaka formula.
- 207 – 70% of your age = Maximum heart rate
- MHR – Resting heart rate taken as soon as you awake = Heart rate reserve
- Heart rate reserve X 70% + resting heart rate = Heart rate target range
So why are so many aerobically out of shape? Is it due to a lack of desire, lack of time, or a lack of motivation? The reasons are many but the truth of the matter is this; “in order to make changes change is necessary”.(1)
Research has clearly shown the benefits of increased cardiovascular health in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and other unhealthy heart and lung conditions. (2) Now is the time to make these positive life style changes.
Follow this sequence for a successful new beginning
- Begin by seeing a doctor for an overall physical.
- Set up your personal fitness goals
- Dress for success. Wear good fitting walking, running or bicycling shoes. Dress in proper fitting clothing, layered in the winter and reflective in the summer.
- Exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY by putting a check mark on the calendar to show yourself you CAN make the necessary changes to succeed.
- Chart your progress everyday, write down how you did, how you felt. Make it your personal workout diary.
- Drink enough to stay hydrated; your urine should be a pale yellow. If not and it is bright yellow and strong smelling then you are dehydrated unless you are taking in excessive vitamin B supplements
- Progress slowly. Start out by walking, riding a bicycle and then finally by jogging and running. Vary the cardiovascular workout mode for added benefits.
- Chart your target heart range and stay in it for the recommended amount of time for your age
- Overload your body the correct way, i.e. don’t change any one variable by more than 10% each time. For example, if you are running for ten minutes add only 10% to the increase for the next level. In other words, add one minute. Gradually get used to the new time, or longer distance or faster pace, but only by 10% of the previous times, distance or pace.
- Acclimatize your body to its new routine. Vary the load, intensity and frequency so your body does not become accustomed to these variables.
- Make exercise a habit.
- Let someone know where you are going and for how long you will be gone
- Exercise with a partner if you have a difficult time in remaining self motivated
- Walk, run and ride in a safe legal manner, follow your state statues for engaging in these activities
Within the first SIX MONTHS, most people QUIT. Are you going to be one of them? Try these tricks of the trade to avoid dropping out of the exercise mode.
- Make exercising FUN
- Go at a comfortable yet challenging pace
- Do more than just walk, run and bicycle. In other words, cross train.
- Take music along with you. Just don’t have it blaring in your ears through an earplug. You cannot avoid danger if you can’t hear it coming.
- Exercise the same time each day. Get it out of the way early or make it the last thing you treat yourself to at the end of the day. Make it natural and convenient. You will be better able to stick with it.
- Keep records of your achievements each day
Follow the SMART goal setting method of:
S stands for specific
M stands for measurable
A is for achievable
R asks if it is a realistic goal
T indicates time ended.
In other words unless a goal is specific, measure able, achievable, realistic and time ended it is simply a dream with no starting or ending to it. Live your dream; don’t just dream of living it.
(1) Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS,*D
(2) Research and resultant international conference presentation titled “The effects of exercise on blood pressure” by the author. Presentation made July 03 in Ottawa, Canada.