Aerobic or Cardiovascular Exercise: Are You Doing Too Much?
Women are generally more familiar and have more experience with aerobic exercises than with strength training exercises. Aerobic exercises are activities such as walking, running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, aerobic classes, using the elliptical machine, treadmill, etc. For most women, this is their exercise of choice. While aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular endurance and is a fun source of recreation, and it does burn calories, many women spend too much time doing aerobic exercises in hopes of burning off excess fat and neglect strength training, which increasingly is shown to be of great importance, especially for women.  As a result, this overemphasis on aerobic exercise and neglect of strength training can lead to muscle imbalances, overuse injuries, loss of muscle tissue and poor results.

Intensity and Duration of Aerobic Exercise:
In addition to spending too much time on aerobic exercise, another problem I have observed is a lack of intensity. I see many women who grab a book or magazine and try to read while on a treadmill or elliptical machine, this is not only dangerous as you are risking injury, it is not productive. Spending sixty to ninety minutes and sometimes longer on a treadmill or elliptical machine when you are slowly moving does not raise your heart rate enough. When doing your aerobic workout you are much better off focusing on the activity, doing a shorter more intense aerobic session and then when you are done, relax and read your magazine or book. Keep in mind your own personal health situation, medical history, and any injuries before you begin a training program. If you are a beginner, you will need to start out slow and increase your intensity gradually as your fitness level improves.

Aerobic Workout Tips

  • Always do a warm up and a cool down
  • Aim for three thirty-minute aerobic workouts per week alternating with your strength training days.
  • Change up your aerobic activities each workout. For example, if in a gym, do the treadmill one session, then the stationary bike the next session, then the elliptical machine for your third session. Or better yet, if you do your aerobic exercise outside, walk one day, then bike ride on your next session, then for your third session, jump rope or take a hike on a trail that includes more hills. Mix it up, your body will respond better.
  • During a thirty-minute workout, do two different activities one right after the other. For example do the treadmill for the first fifteen minutes, then the stationary bike for the next fifteen minutes.
  • For more advanced training, do interval training. Do thirty seconds to three minutes at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate, with thirty seconds to five minutes recovery. When you first start interval training, start slow and do only one session a week; gradually building up to 2 or 3 sessions a week.

Listen to your body. Rest and good nutrition are essential for a full recovery after intense workouts.  Remember, balance is the key to a successful fitness plan. 










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