Make the right choices

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AEROBIC EXERCISES Choose what suits you best
AEROBIC EXERCISES Choose what suits you best

Time, cost, availability of exercise equipment and injury risk should be considered while choosing a particular aerobic exercise

Which is the better aerobic exercise? Ten minutes on an exercise bike that leaves you exhausted or a long walk that does not even break sweat? Aerobic exercise, defined as “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature,” encompasses a wide variety of exercises.

Most of us choose a particular aerobic exercise based on personal preference or health advice. Time, cost, availability of exercise equipment and injury risk are also important in choosing a particular aerobic exercise.

Three categories

There are three categories of aerobic exercise. The first, like walking, jogging and cycling, does not depend upon the participant’s skill. These activities use up energy at a steady rate. They are ideal for beginners and for those coming out of a sedentary spell.

The second group depends on the participant’s skill: swimming or dancing, for example. Burning calories faster here means swimming or dancing faster and that takes skill. The third group includes sports like basketball and racket sports that have widely varying rates of energy use.

Aerobic exercises can be weight bearing, like walking or jogging, and non-weight bearing like cycling. While it is easy to work up a sweat on the stationary bike, walking, which moves the body’s weight, may be better at burning calories. Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and are better for the skeleton. On the other hand, cycling may be less stressful for the joints and muscles. Swimming works the whole body, unlike walking which favours the lower half. The near weightlessness of being in water is wonderful for arthritic joints: it allows one to work the muscles around a vulnerable joint without excessive stress on the joint itself. However, swimming is not the best exercise for burning calories and one cannot do it for a long time. It is important for beginners and for those with health concerns to be able to increase exercise intensity in a graded manner.

Treadmills and stationary bikes are ideal for overloading the cardiovascular system gradually. They are also ideal for complex modes of exercise: for example, trying to alternate spells of intense exercise with spells of moderate exercise.





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