What is aerobic exercise?
In a nutshell, aerobic exercise is the type of sustained activity where you engage the large muscles of your body (legs and gluts) for a prolonged period of time. Aerobic exercise increases the need to oxygen that allows these muscles to perform, helps to flush toxins out of the bloodstream, increases your metabolism, and strengthens the heart and lungs. Aerobic activity also requires sustained energy in the form of calories that are used to fuel your workout. Calories stoke the aerobic flame as wood or coal stokes a furnace.
Calories expended = pounds lost. My favorite kind of math!
Math actually isn’t my favorite, but here are a couple of simple formulas for you.
3500 Calories = 1 Pound of body fat
500 Calories Less per Day X 7 Days = 1 Pound of body fat lost per week
Now that you know that math, there are a couple of ways you could go about this (and no, saying that’s too much and giving up is not one of them).
1) Burn 500 calories per day with exercise. You burn about 100 calories every ten minutes of sustained aerobic activity when exercising at a challenging level, so a 50 minute aerobic workout each day would burn the 500 calories. If that sound likes too much for some of you, here’s another option.
2) Burn 250 calories per day with exercise and eat 250 calories less each day.
The bottom line is, if you burn or expend more calories than you take in, you lose weight. If you take in more calories than you burn, you gain.
Knowing these numbers can also help clear up some issues about being discouraged with only a one or two pound weight loss each week. Two pounds is 7000 calories!! That’s a tremendous amount of calories to eliminate through less food or more activity.
The recommended daily intake of calories for the average woman ranges anywhere from 1500 to 2200 calories per day. So, don’t minimize your accomplishments, remember you’ve either burned or given up a lot of calories to lost a pound of fat!
When it comes to the appropriate type of aerobic activity for you, it’s a completely personal decision dependant on what you like. I tried my first spin class when I went on a work trip to take first aid training in Perth. The hotel I was staying in had a gym that offered it so I decided to give it a shot. Now I love it! However, everyone is different, one mom may love to walk, another may love to run, another may love to dance, hike, use the elliptical machine, swim, or hit the courts for an hour of tennis. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you a) choose something you enjoy and b) DO IT!
If you find your aerobic exercise torturous, you’ll hardly look forward to it. But if you find it invigorating, rejuvenating, and inspiring – mark my words, you’ll miss it when you can’t do it!
You may be the type of person who becomes easily bored with routine. If that’s the case, mix things up a bit and discover a few different activities you enjoy. Try an organized sport that keeps you moving, or change your pace between high and low intensity while alternating between walking, jogging or running. You can build a library of fun exercise DVDs or take classes at a nearby health club. Maybe you want to go back to doing something you enjoyed before you had kids like jumping rope or rollerblading.
I’ll tell you a quick story.
When I was sixteen years old, I had my heart set on my first car, but I had no money to buy it. It was a fire-engine red Triumph TR7 with a pull-down sunroof. (I haven’t seen these cars on the road in years!) I wanted the car and needed to find a way to earn enough money to buy it.
I found a job at a nearby, fancy country club where I worked as a pool waitress during the day and a hostess in the main dining room at night. Since I didn’t have the car (yet) I had no transportation and needed to get to work, so I found an easy way to get there. I roller skated!
Imagine this picture: I’m wearing a white uniform with my black apron tied around my waist, and I’m roller skating to work in my skates with the hot pink wheels! Anyone who saw me got a good chuckle from the sight, but I was in great shape, resourceful, and earned enough money to buy the hottest car in my high school!
I told my kids this story, and after they told me how weird I was, I informed them that I was going to try skating again and anyone who wants to join me was welcome to. I gave my old skates away, but found roller derby skates that are similar to the ones I had before. Many falls and many laughs later, Disco Debi is back skating along to the same seventies music I enjoyed 25 years ago.
So find something that gets you moving that you enjoy. And then get out there and burn it up!
Do you have suggestions for ways you’ve incorporated aerobic activity into your life in a way that works? Please share in the comments or drop me a note – I always love to hear from you!
Debi Silber, “The Mojo Coach”
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