The term aerobic exercise applies to any form of cardiovascular conditioning that is powered by the oxygen you take in as you perform the exercise. These exercises lead to an increase in your heart rate and breathing, but you should still be able to talk while performing them.
Aerobic exercises include activities like cycling, swimming, or running. Such exercises help to keep your circulatory system, lungs, and heart healthy.
Aerobic exercises should not be confused with anaerobic exercises like sprinting or lifting weights. These activities require bursts of energy for short durations. Anaerobic exercises cannot be sustained for long periods like aerobic exercise.
Some of the benefits associated with aerobic exercise include:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces chronic pain
- Improves cardiovascular endurance and health
- Alleviates asthma symptoms
- It helps to burn fat
- Improves brain health
- Improves mood
- Lowers stress
- Improves sleep quality
10 simple aerobic exercises
Aerobic exercises tend to be gentler on your body, so you can perform these exercises daily without putting much stress on your body. Thinking about adding aerobic activities to your fitness routine? Here are some simple ones you can start with:
1) Jump rope
Here’s a simple aerobic exercise that doesn’t require much equipment besides a jump rope.
- Gear: You can throw on a pair of sneakers to protect your feet from all the jumping you’ll be doing.
- Benefits: Skipping provides other benefits besides giving you a good cardio workout. It improves your agility, hand-foot coordination, and enhances your sense of timing. It makes you more aware of how the different parts of your body work together.
- Safety: Start the exercise with a rope that is long enough for your height. Step on the middle of the rope with both feet and extend the rope’s handles towards your armpits. If the handles barely reach your armpit, that’s the right-sized rope for you.
- Duration: Plan to spend 15 to 25 minutes each workout session and repeat the process three to five times per week.
Here’s what a basic jump rope session looks like:
- Start by slowly jogging forward while swinging the rope over your head and under your feet. Do this for about 20 seconds.
- Next, jog backward while swinging the rope over your head and under your feet. Keep going for 20 seconds.
- Now, alternate between jumping with your feet out to the sides and back to the center. It is the same motion used when performing jumping jacks. Skip while doing this for 20 seconds.
Rest for 20 seconds after each set and start all over again. Aim for 15 to 20 sets. Increase how long you perform each portion of the exercise as your endurance improves.
Here’s a way to build stronger muscles while getting a good cardio workout. It also shortens the time you have to spend at the gym since you get to kill two birds with one stone. You can perform these exercises using weights at the gym or performing bodyweight exercises at home.
- Gear: A comfortable floor to exercise on and your imagination.
- Benefits: These workouts will improve the tone of your muscles, make you stronger, and improve your cardiovascular and heart health.
- Safety: Maintain proper form when performing these exercises to reduce the risk of injury.
- Duration: Perform any of these exercises for a minute, then rest for a minute while jogging in place. Move on to the next exercise and perform it for a minute, then rest while jogging. Combine any three or four exercises to complete a circuit.
Examples of strength training exercises you can use to build an aerobic workout circuit include:
Rest for about five minutes after completing a circuit and repeat the process two more times. You can add more exercises to the circuit as your stamina improves or perform more circuits to increase the difficulty.
3) Jogging or running
Running is a great aerobic workout that is great for burning calories and fat. It’s also an excellent way to explore your surroundings and enjoy the scenery.
- Gear: A comfortable pair of running shoes.
- Benefits: It improves your cardiovascular health and puts you in a better mood.
- Safety: The first step towards adding running to your fitness routine is finding a safe place to do so. Find running routes that are well-lit with lots of activity. If that’s not an option for you, a treadmill works just as well as it’s gentler on your knees. You just don’t get to enjoy the outdoors.
- Duration: If you’re new to running, start with going for 20 to 30-minute runs twice a week. Run at a steady pace where you could still hold a conversation if you had to. If that’s too challenging for you, start by running for five-minute intervals with one-minute walking breaks in-between. End your walks by stretching your muscles.
Also, find comfortable running shoes that provide lots of support for your ankles. This reduces the stress placed on your feet and legs as you go on your runs. Don’t try to run in un-cushioned shoes since that increases your risk of injury.
If any form of running or jogging is too much for you, walking is better than nothing. It doesn’t burn as much fat as running, but it does reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
- Gear: A comfortable pair of shoes.
- Benefits: Improves heart health, blood pressure, and helps to manage weight.
- Safety: Find a safe, well-lit, populated area to use for your walks. A treadmill also works.
- Duration: Aim to get about 150 minutes of walking each week. That’s not particularly hard to accomplish. Just aim for 30-minute walks five days each week.
Fitness tracker apps or wearables can be used to measure how many steps you take each day as you go on your walks or runs. This allows you to keep track of your progress so you can increase the difficulty of your workouts as your body gets stronger.
Swimming is a low-impact aerobic workout that’s great for burning fat and improving your cardiovascular endurance.
- Gear: A safe place to swim, a pair of swimming trunks, goggles, and a towel.
- Benefits: Swimming is a full-body workout that targets all of the muscles in your body, strengthening them. It’s an excellent option for people who are recovering from injuries or those with limited mobility.
- Safety: Find a safe place to swim, preferably with a lifeguard.
- Duration: Try to get 10 to 30 minutes of swimming in 2 to 5 times per week.
6) Stationary bike
Here’s another low-impact exercise that helps to improve leg strength.
- Gear: A stationary bike.
- Benefits: Low impact aerobic exercise that develops muscles in the lower half of the body.
- Safety: The first step is setting the bike to the correct height for you. Your knee should have a five to ten-degree bend before getting to full extension. This keeps the compression on your knee joint to a minimum. You should never fully extend your knee when riding a stationary bike.
- Duration: Start with 30 to 45-minute sessions, three times every week, and increase the difficulty as your body gets stronger.
This is a high-impact exercise that builds shaper reflexes while increasing your endurance and strength. It is also a great way to destress after a tough day. You get to take all that pent out emotion out on a heavy bag or pads.
These classes mix kickboxing techniques with aerobics to give you a full-body cardio workout that never gets old. Instructors often incorporate bodyweight exercises into these workouts as well.
Aim to attend classes one to three times per week and drink lots of water before and after classes.
- Gear: T-shirt and shorts.
- Benefits: Sharper reflexes, lower stress, improved cardiovascular endurance.
- Safety: Warm up before your classes with a five-minute run or jump rope session.
- Duration: One to three 60-minute sessions each week.
If you like dancing, Zumba classes might be for you. You get to learn new dance moves and listen to fun music while working up a decent sweat.
- Gear: Comfortable gym shoes.
- Benefits: Zumba gives you a low-impact aerobic workout that improves your coordination, lowers stress, improves your heart health, improves your rhythm, and tones your entire body.
- Safety: Make sure you’re well-hydrated before and during your Zumba classes. Take a break if you feel dizzy during class.
- Duration: Zumba classes can last up to an hour. Aim to attend one to three classes each week.
You might think elliptical machines are complicated to use at first glance, but it’s just as easy as riding a stationary bike once you get the hang of it. It gives you a much better workout though since it targets all the muscles in your body.
- Gear: An elliptical machine.
- Benefits: Low-impact cardiovascular workout that is gentler on the back, hips, and knees than running on a trail or treadmill.
- Safety: Use the handlebars if you feel unbalanced and look forward as you exercise on the machine. This makes it easier to stay balanced.
- Duration: Aim for 30 minutes sessions, two to three times per week. Increase the length of your sessions as your endurance improves.
10) Martial arts classes
Martial arts give you a complete workout you can’t get from most activities. You get an aerobic and anaerobic workout simultaneously, and you can burn up to 1000 calories for every hour spent on the mat. It’s a group activity, so you’ll also get to meet all sorts of cool people.
- Gear: T-shirts and shorts or a gi.
- Benefits: Aerobic and anaerobic workout, lower stress, improved problem-solving skills, and practical self-defense skills.
- Safety: Drink lots of water during your classes to stay hydrated. Take a break when you feel fatigued and take things slowly if you’re new to martial arts.
- Duration: Martial arts classes typically last about an hour. Try to attend minimally three classes each week.
Find what works for you
These are only a tiny sample of the many aerobic exercises you can add to your fitness routine. Stop by one of Evolve’s complimentary introductory classes to find out more!
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