One of the best things that you can do for yourself is doing aerobic exercises 30 minutes a day, as mentioned earlier. These include walking, running, bicycling etc. which increases your oxygen intake and gets your heart pumping. During an aerobic exercise you move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. Your body, thus, takes in oxygen and uses it to sustain the movements.
Regular aerobic exercises can reduce health risks, help maintain weight, improve cardiovascular fitness and boost your mood. The exercises can be done in short bursts of longer sessions.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercises
- As you exercise you tend to breathe faster and more deeply, take in more oxygen increasing the amount in your blood stream.
- The exercises increase the diameter of capillaries or small blood vessels. The dilated vessels then take in more oxygen to the muscles and carry away the waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Over time the capillaries will actually develop in the muscles to initiate efficient oxygen delivery and waste removal.
- The blood is pumped forcefully and faster when you exercise. Your heart beats faster increasing the blood flow to the muscles and back to your lungs.
- While you exercise your body warms up and releases heat into the air as you breathe out.
- Regular exercise releases endorphins, body’s natural pain killers.
- The body gets adapted to regular aerobic exercise making you feel fitter and healthy.
To achieve maximum aerobic fitness here’s a list of activities to choose from:
- Running and jogging
- Aerobic dancing or any forms of dance
- Aquatic exercises
- Stair climbing
- Elliptical training
- Martial arts
- Skipping or jump rope
- Gym-based activities
- Routine household work, gardening etc.
The health walk
Amongst the several aerobic exercises, the easiest is walking simple and inexpensive. Walking does not require any gadgets, special attire or equipment. All you may need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes that fit your feet. It can be done at any time and in any weather.
A daily walk of 1-3 km is sufficient to stimulate the circulatory system. You can walk in a park, jogging track, or even walk in the balcony or terrace. While you walk, be relaxed. Walking should make you feel refreshed and not tired. Begin with short walks and extend the intensity slowly. For instance, for the first three months, you take a slow walk for about 20 minutes then you can increase the pace, distance and time.
Walking is the most primal patterns known to man. It involves the integrated use of arms, legs and torso and results in rhythmic contraction and relaxation of muscles and rhythmic pressure changes in body cavities. The movement thus improves circulation of blood, lymph and synovial fluid—the lubricating fluid in the joints. Swinging arms vigorously as you walk helps burn 10 per cent more calories.
As you walk, the diaphragm contracts rhythmically with the abdominal muscles to help respiration. The increased respiratory demand from the muscle actions keeps the internal organs mobile and healthy.
Brisk walking each day increases enzyme and metabolic activity and helps burn calories (B0x 4). Increased metabolism will draw in nutrients from your food and supplements, and will make you drink more fluids. The process of detoxification and elimination will help improve digestion.
Calories Burnt per Hour by an Individual Weighing 70 kg
|Walking with a backpack||410|
|Walking uphill or on a slope or an incline.||500|
When and where to walk?
- Park your car at a distance, and walk the rest
- Stop taking elevators, climb up the stairs
- Go for long walks and hikes during your leisure time
- Walk on your terrace or garden
- Early morning or evening—best time to walk
Any kind of movement can increase your heart rate and provide benefits. According to cardiologists Dr Prasad and Dr Das from Sudhir Heart Centre, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, physical inactivity is a cardiovascular risk factor. Moreover, evidence regarding health benefits of physical activity is overwhelming and plays a critical role in both the primary and secondary prevention of coronary artery disease (CAD). A report from the office of the Surgeon General on physical Activity and Health, 1996, US Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia, lists activities that can replace 30 minutes of walking.
- Washing your car with water for 45-60 minutes
- Washing building windows or mopping floors for 45-60 minutes
- Playing volleyball or badminton for 45 minutes
- Gardening – Digging and pruning for 30-45 minutes
- Riding your bicycle d 8 km in 30 minutes
- Dancing Fast for 30 minutes
- Water Aerobics for 30 minutes
- Swimming Laps for 20 minutes
- Basketball (a game ) for 15-20 minutes
- Jumping rope for 15 minutes
- Climbing stairs for 15 minutes