What Are Aerobic Exercises?


Quick Answer

Aerobic exercises require continuous movement of large muscle groups to increase the heart rate. Examples of aerobic exercises are walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, rowing, cycling, swimming, jump rope and using an elliptical trainer. These exercises are also called cardiovascular, or "cardio" exercise.

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Full Answer

The American Heart Association recommends performing some form of aerobic or cardiovascular activity 5 to 7 days a week for at least 30 minutes per session. This is the minimum recommended guideline for decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

Aerobic exercise has many other benefits besides keeping disease at bay. When combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps people lose weight and keep it off. It also helps support a healthy immune system, making regular exercisers less likely to come down with common illnesses, such as the common cold and influenza. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also lowers blood pressure, reduces resting heart rate and improves lung function.

Aerobic exercise also has psychological benefits. It helps boost mood, minimizes symptoms of depression, reduces anxiety, relieves tension and promotes relaxation. Three 30-minute aerobic workouts per week help to prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

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