Aerobic Exercises

Type of Aerobic Activities

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Type or Mode of Aerobic Exercises

 

Aerobic Exercise Groupings
                                     Aerobic Exercise Groupings

Aerobic activities are grouped into four categories along with recommendations on who would most appropriately engage in the given activity (see Aerobic Exercise Groupings) . Exercises in group A are recommended for everyone because they are relatively simple activities that can be started at a low level of effort. Group B activities are more vigorous and thus are most appropriate if you already have a good fitness base (i.e., you have been exercising regularly and have determined your fitness level to be at least in the fair to average range).

 

Group C activities are those that have a definite skill component and thus may require some learning before being used as a fitness tool. Group D activities are recreational and, because intensity varies depending on the situation, are best reserved for people who are regularly active and have a good fitness base. Do not consider these groupings progressive (e.g., that group C activities are better than group B activities), but rather as a way to classify various aerobic exercises.

Volume

The concept of volume reflects a summary or overall amount of activity. One way to provide a summary of your aerobic exercise is to determine the calories you use when engaging in your aerobic activities each week. When considering the activity recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, a reasonable target is at least 1,000 calories per week (2). Calculating calories burned can be helpful when you are interested in losing weight, but it is also a great way to pull together the four parts of your aerobic exercise prescription—frequency, intensity, time, and type of activity—into one number. Whether you do the same activity each day or change it up, you still can take a look at your weekly total to ensure that you are on track with just a few calculations.

To keep things simple, researchers have created a unit of measure called a metabolic equivalent, or MET. A MET is equal to the oxygen cost at rest (i.e., 1 MET = resting level = 3.5 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram body weight per minute). Multiples of a MET are then applied to various activities. For example, walking at 3.5 miles per hour (5.6 km/h) is equal to 4 METs. In other words, you are working four times harder when walking at 3.5 miles per hour than you are when seated in a resting position. Metabolic equivalent values have been determined for a wide variety of activities (see table 5.7 for some examples of basic activities) .

Metabolic Equivalent MET Values
             Metabolic Equivalent MET Values

Once you know the MET value for a given exercise, you can estimate how many calories you burned per minute by inserting that value into the following formula (numbers in bold are constants—in other words, they do not change):

____ MET value of activity × 3.5 × ___ body weight in kg ÷ 200

= ____ calories burned per minute

Insert the MET value for the activity and then your body weight (to convert from pounds to kilograms, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.454 to determine your weight in kilograms). For an example on how this can be used, see Checking Volume of Aerobic Exercise.

Once you know the MET value for a given exercise, you can estimate how many calories you burned per minute by inserting that value into the following formula (numbers in bold are constants—in other words, they do not change):

____ MET value of activity × 3.5 × ___ body weight in kg ÷ 200=

= ____ calories burned per minute

Insert the MET value for the activity and then your body weight (to convert from pounds to kilograms, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.454 to determine your weight in kilograms). For an example on how this can be used, see Checking Volume of Aerobic Exercise.

Checking Volume of Aerobic Exercise

To compare two programs—one focused on walking and the other on jogging—take a look at the MET values to help you examine how intensity influences the number of calories burned.

  • Walking program: walking 3.5 miles per hour (5.6 km/h) for 50 minutes
  • Jogging program: running at 5 miles per hour (8 km/h) for 25 minutes

For this example, the calculations are done for a 150-pound (68.1 kg) person. The MET values for each activity are found in table = Metabolic Equivalent MET Values (up)

Walking at 3.5 miles per hour (5.6 km/h) is equal to 4.3 METs, so using the formula provided previously, a 50-minute workout burns about 255 calories (determined by multiplying 5.1 calories per minute by the workout duration of 50 minutes), as follows:

(4.3 METs × 3.5 × 68.1 kg) ÷ 200 = 5.1 calories per minute

Running at 5 miles per hour (8 km/h) is equal to 8.3 METs, so using the formula provided previously, a 25-minute workout would burn 248 calories (determined by multiplying 9.9 calories per minute by the workout duration of 25 minutes), as follows:

(8.3 METs × 3.5 × 68.1 kg) ÷ 200 = 9.9 calories per minute

The two workouts burn approximately the same number of calories. Thus even though the activities are very different, the overall volume (which accounts for the type, duration, and intensity) is similar.

Progression

Progression is how an exercise program is advanced over time. Many factors must be considered, including current health and fitness status, training responses, and goals (2). The key is gradual progression rather than making abrupt or significant changes in one of the FITT components. If you are just starting, to optimize safety and avoid injury, the recommendation is “start low and go slow” .Table Activity Status reflects this concept of slowly increasing the volume of exercise. Rather than increasing frequency, intensity, and duration all at once, you want to gradually introduce changes. For example, initially, you may simply increase the time spent in activity. As you adjust to this level of activity, you may then want to cut back the time a bit and increase the intensity slightly. Reflect on the overall volume of exercise to help make sure your progression is gradual. As you make adjustments to your program, give yourself time at a particular volume of activity to ensure you are able to maintain this new level before trying to move forward.

Cool-Down

The cool-down should consist of a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes of low- to moderate-level activity . The cool-down provides an opportunity for body systems to gradually return to preexercise levels. A cool-down is recommended to allow the heart to slow down in a controlled manner, thus avoiding negative changes in heart rhythm. In addition, if you stop your activity too abruptly, blood that was circulating to the working muscles can pool in your legs, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. A cool-down also helps to gradually decrease body temperature, which naturally increased during the endurance phase. Activities included in a cool-down are similar to those in the warm-up, but the intensity needs to gradually diminish toward resting levels .

A proper cool-down is driven by both practical issues (e.g., avoiding fainting from a drop in blood pressure) and safety issues (e.g., avoiding negative changes in heart rhythm). The cool-down is like a freeway off-ramp. When shifting from freeway speeds to those appropriate on city streets, time is needed for an adjustment. In a similar way, the cool-down allows the body to adjust back toward normal resting levels. The higher the intensity of your conditioning phase, the longer your cool-down should be.