The Definition of Aerobic Activity

Woman jogging on beach
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Aerobic activity is an exercise that raises the body's demand for oxygen, resulting in a temporary increase in the rate of respiration and heart rate. Your heart becomes stronger and works more efficiently when you do the aerobic activity on a regular basis. Aerobic activity is also referred to as aerobic exercise.  

Pronunciation: air-oh-bick

Also Known As: cardio

Common Misspellings: airobic

Examples: Biking, running, and skating are all examples of aerobic activity or aerobic exercise.

What is Aerobic Activity?

If you're trying to lose weight, you've probably heard that you should include aerobic activity in your daily routine. But what is aerobic activity and why is it important for weight loss?

Almost every type of exercise is healthy for your body, but aerobic exercise or aerobic activity helps your body to burn more calories and fat. When you increase the number of calories you burn each day and decrease the number of calories you eat you create a calorie deficit.  The calorie deficit leads to weight loss.

How Much Aerobic Activity is Needed?

So how much aerobic exercise is needed to lose weight? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that you get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to improve heart health. But they suggest that you get much more if you're trying to slim down. The ACSM recommend 250 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or more each week to promote significant weight loss and to keep the pounds from coming back.

Of course, if you are starting a new exercise program, 250 minutes of exercise per week may seem like too much. To stay healthy, safe and injury-free it's best to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do each day. You can start with a simple 15-minute walk each day and add time each week as you feel stronger.


Examples of Aerobic Activity

Walking is one of the best forms of aerobic activity, especially for new exercisers.  Why? Because everyone knows how to walk, you can walk anywhere, and it requires no special equipment. But walking isn't the only form of aerobic exercise.

If you don't like to walk, try swimming laps or going for a bike ride. You can take an aerobics class or use an exercise machine like a treadmill or elliptical.  Ballroom dancing is often aerobic and other fun activities like hiking, heavy gardening, and shoveling snow can provide aerobic benefits. Even housework can be an aerobic workout if you make some small changes to your routine.

There are many different ways to include aerobic activity into your daily routine. If you can take small steps to include some aerobic exercise in your schedule, you'll enjoy benefits including improved heart health, better sleep, weight loss, improved self-confidence and a better sense of well-being.

*This article was originally published on October 17, 2006. Edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert