Aerobics is a form of physical activity (exercise) which uses the large muscle groups (muscles of the legs, thighs and hips) of the body to work in a continuous and rhythmic pattern at a low to moderate intensity for a long duration (Minimum 20 minutes or longer).
Running, jogging, brisk walking, cycling, stair climbing, skipping rope and aerobic classes are all examples of aerobic activities. All these activities overload the heart, blood vessels and lungs to make them work harder to supply oxygen rich blood to the working muscles. As a result, the cardiovascular and respiratory system becomes stronger and more efficient. Moreover, aerobic exercises are the best way to burn excess fat
There are various types of aerobic classes out of which an individual can choose as per his / her interest and goal related to fitness.
1. The Traditional Floor Aerobics
This consists of certain movements which go forward, backward or lateral choreographed to a specific music. They are either high impact moves or low impact moves.
Depending upon instructor to instructor, and the level of participants this class can be low impact (where one foot remains in contact with the floor at all times), high impact (both feet leave the floor simultaneously) or a mix of both. A low impact aerobic class is best for beginners and de-conditioned individuals whereas a high impact class interests highly fit individuals. However, high impact moves done repetitively for a long period of time taxing the joints and can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.
It is up to the efficiency and creativity of the instructor to design a safe as well as an effective class for the participants.
2. Step Aerobics
In a step aerobics class, the choreographed moves are performed on an elevated platform or step which can be adjusted to various heights starting from 4” to 12” (4”, 6”, 8” 10” and 12”). A participant graduates from a lower platform height to a higher one depending upon the fitness level. The choreography involves stepping up and down the platform in possibly every direction. The moves can be high impact or low impact as designed by the instructor. Any good instructor will always demonstrate a substitute for a high impact move for participants who are not very comfortable.
Step Aerobics is one of the most popular cardio exercises and most preferred by women. It mainly targets the legs, hips and glutes and can burn approximately 400 calories in 30 minutes during a high intensity session with a raised platform.
- To obtain perfect results you need to look for a certified trainer who clubs the cardio with weight training.
- Wear good shoes with fore foot flexibility and an arch.
- Wear your socks to avoid getting bruised.
- Land softly when stepping down the step.
- Do not pound and stay close to the step.
This type of aerobic class is designed using steps from various dance forms such as Hip-hop, Salsa, Jazz and even Bollywood dancing! These classes are great fun along with exercise at the same time.
Such classes can either be a mix of steps from certain dance forms or inspired from just one form of dancing that is hip hop aerobics, bollywood aerobics and so on. The music used in such classes is either as per the dance form or a mix and match of certain beats and songs.
4. Cardio Kickboxing
This form of aerobic class blends the elements of boxing, martial arts and traditional aerobics into a high intensity cardio-respiratory exercise workout routine. This is a non-contact workout routine in which a participant punches, kicks and strikes through the air rather than an opponent. Cardio kickboxing routine is qualified as a total body workout as it uses several muscles of the upper body as well, whereas other regular aerobics classes use only large muscles of the lower body. Only people who are reasonably fit with no medical ailment are good candidates for this type of class.
5. Bhangra Aerobics
This is a high-energy workout consisting of dance moves inspired by the traditional folk dance – Bhangra, from the state of Punjab. The instructor choreographs the dance moves in a specific pattern on the Bhangra music which is usually drum beats.
6. Aqua Aerobics
This type of activity is performed in shallow water such as a swimming pool. This routine combines a variety of land aerobics activity form such as traditional aerobics, running or walking forward and backward, jumping and so on along with various arm movements. There are certain floatation equipments as well, which are used for a variety of other exercises. Aqua aerobics can be done with or without music. The advantage of aqua aerobics is that it is absolutely low impact and non weight bearing and hence safe for people with musculoskeletal injuries, pregnant women and the elderly.
Benefits of Aerobics
- Aerobic activity improves cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) and respiratory (lungs) fitness. It increases the level of HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), which is heart friendly cholesterol. It maintains an optimum blood pressure, maintains elasticity of arteries which minimizes the risk of blood clots and heart attack and thus reduces the risk of several heart and lung diseases and certain cancers.
- It is a high energy activity which requires a lot of calories. Thus people who are looking forward to lose excess weight and body fat can go ahead with aerobics. The number of calories burned while performing in an aerobic class depends upon the participant’s age, gender, and body weight, intensity of the choreography, music tempo and efficiency of the participant.
- It strengthens the immune system by increasing the concentration of WBC (white blood cells which fight diseases) in the blood.
- Aerobics is a weight bearing activity (you bear your own body weight while exercising) hence it strengthens and builds the muscles and bones. This reduces risk of osteoporosis.
- Aerobics slows down the process of ageing by conditioning the body systems and building and strengthening the bones and muscles which tend to weaken as we age.
- Aerobics has great psychological benefits. While exercising, hormones called endorphins are released in the body, which gives a great sense of feel-good factor. The participant feels happy and less stressed. As aerobics is a very challenging activity, it results in a sense of accomplishment and pride on completing every single aerobic session.
- Aerobic classes are a lot of fun and motivation so you are more likely to stick to your exercise regime and continue to reap health and fitness benefits.
- In an aerobic class, you workout in a group, you have an instructor to monitor you and motivate you throughout so even if you want to give up, you will not and end up working out at your level best.
- With regular practice you get to enjoy and understand music better and learn to shake a leg on the right note.
- You make friends in an aerobic class, laugh and have fun. This is a great stress buster.