What you should know about aerobic exercises

Many people are eager to start on aerobic exercises as part of their daily fitness routine because they believe it is easy to do, and is less stressful. However, fitness experts say you need to be physically healthy and mentally prepared.

Monday July 28 2014

Aerobic exercises involve movement of the whole b

Aerobic exercises involve movement of the whole body, which is important in strengthening the bones and joints. Both young and old people can engage in it. file photo 

By Jacinta Odongo

A few months after I gave birth, a friend advised me to join aerobic classes if I wanted to lose weight. Desperate to regain my pre-pregnancy weight, I searched around for a health club in my neighbourhood that offered aerobic classes.
It was only after I signed up that I learnt that like most exercises, the amount of aerobic exercise you take part in depends on a person’s fitness levels and any predisposing health condition at the time. As a result, even though I had a normal delivery, I started bleeding again. Marcy Atim faced a similar experience, which she says almost killed her.

“I joined aerobics classes at a local gym about a month ago. I wanted to maintain a healthy weight so I decided I would do it five times a week. At the beginning, I was excited because I had heard many good things about aerobics and thought it was a simple exercise,” says Atim.

At that time, she weighed 85 kilogrammes and her self-confidence was low. As a result, she did not feel confortable wearing short skirts or jeans, as they made her look even bigger. Instead, she opted for over-sized clothes to hide her weight.

“My target was to shed off six kilogrammes in one month so I never skipped my aerobics classes. However, two weeks into the programme, my muscles started to pain and I had difficulty in breathing,” says Atim.

She ignored the pain and the symptoms until one evening when, during one of her classes, she felt dizzy and thought it was a case of dehydration. All she remembers thereafter was waking up on a hospital bed.

Patrick Mucheme, a fitness instructor at Garden City Fitness Centre, says people who start out on any fitness programme need to keep it moderate, before gradually moving to high intensity programmes. He says even for aerobics, which people always consider to be an easier exercise programme, starting at a moderate level is recommended. “If you have spent a long time without doing being active, it is better to start with light activities that last about 30 minutes, three times a week.

You will need another two to three days away from exercise to help your muscles relax,” Mucheme says.
Mucheme defines aerobics as any activity that uses large muscle groups for an extended period of time, in a recurrent nature.

“During aerobic exercise, your heart rate and breathing increases,” he says. “People of any age and weight can benefit from aerobics but they need to first undergo a health check to ensure they are physically fit to go through the rigorous process that comes with the exercise,” he says.
Different aerobics
Mucheme classifies aerobics in five categories.

Circuit class
This is a high intensity form of aerobics that aims to strengthen and build body muscle. It is also a recommended form of women.

Just like the name, it involves use of dance moves to do workouts. It is suitable for young people since it involves a lot of energy to dance to the fast paced music.

This workout involves box jumps (a multi-joint exercise that includes use of bench press-ups and squat, strength training. This exercise helps to strengthen muscles.

Also known as low impact exercise, it emphasises the balanced development of the body through joint mobility, posture, strength and flexibility.

Pilates include between 25 and 50 repetitive low-impact exercises, most of which can be done on a floor mat with no extra equipment required. If you are over 40 or have health problems, pilates is the recommended exercise.

Step class
This one involves the use of elevated platforms (or steps) to make body movements.

Muchene says during aerobics, a person usually breathes faster and deeply, in order to get extra oxygen to their lungs.

1/2 next