The Conventional Wisdom: Aerobics
This is part of a series of articles on health, diet, and exercise
A whole lot of folks say that aerobic exercise is the best kind to do to lose weight.
I don’t agree with that. But I do think aerobics plays a key part in losing weight and maintaining health. It is, however, only part of the picture. One needs to have calorie-consumption restriction in a healthy diet, and one needs strength training.
What is aerobic exercise? Aerobic exercise is exercise you do over an extended session without stopping, like walking, running, swimming, etc. It gets the heart pumping in your target range, and it burns calories. It involves oxygen consumption by the body. Aerobics is touted by many doctors and medical centers, such as the Mayo Clinic, as part of an overall fitness and health regimen. Here’s the “skinny” on aerobics:
Method of physical exercise for producing beneficial changes in the respiratory and circulatory systems by activities which require meeting a modest increase in oxygen intake and so can be maintained.
The advice usually given is to get your heart rate into its “target” range for about 20 to 30 minutes 3 to 5 times a week to achieve the aerobic training effect. The “target” heart rate range is approximately 60% to 90% of the maximum heart rate for a specific individual, which varies quite a bit according to age, sex, physical condition, etc. If you take your age and subtract it from 220, you get a rough idea of what your maximum heart rate is.
Here is a link to a calculator to find out what your exercise target range should be.
So how many calories do various aerobic activities burn?
Here are some figures from the Mayo Clinic’s fascinating table listing lots of activities:
- For a 200-pound individual, one hour of walking at 3.5 miles per hour burns 346 calories.
- For that same individual, jogging for an hour burns 728 calories.
- And if that 200-pound individual manages to run an hour at a pace that enables him or her to go 8 miles, that burns 1229 calories.
And how many calories more than you consume do you need to burn to lose a pound of fat? Actually, there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, according to the National Institutes of Health (A U.S. government agency).
That means our 200-pound individual has to walk for 10 hours, jog for 4 hours and 48 minutes, or run at 8-minute-per-mile speed for 2 hours and 50 minutes.
So aerobic exercise can help lose weight, but it’s not the only thing required. Strength building is essential also, as I’ll explain in a future article. Also, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. Let’s look at a few facts about that here:
Suppose you start a vigorous aerobics program, and then one Saturday, after a good workout, you drop by the local coffee shop and decide to reward yourself with a cafe latte and a blueberry scone. You’re trying to lose weight, so you put Splenda in that latte and you decide to get it with soy milk.
Then you get home, feeling virtuous, and you decide to look up how many calories those healthful snacks cost. So you fire up your Firefox browser and do a bit of googling. Here’s what you find out:
- Starbuck’s Blueberry scone contains 480 calories, 24 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of dietary fiber. Ouch!
- That 16-ounce soy-milk latte contains about 210 calories! Still, that’s better than the whole-milk one containing 260 calories, but the nonfat milk one only had 160 calories.
So your little reward set you back 690 calories, and for our 200-pound hero, that comes to a bit less than an hour of jogging!
One thing to understand from this: Losing weight is not rapid. It takes time, and it is a long-term project. A realistic goal is 3 to 8 pounds a month for an average individual.
And key to success is to find a way of doing it that is interesting and compelling.
I have covered dieting in previous posts, and I’ve touched on strength training with my Transformetrics review. In my next articles in this series, I’ll deal much more with strength training and motivating oneself.
- Alan OldStudent’s Series Of Health-Related Articles: https://alanoldstudent.wordpress.com/about/basic-health-exercise-postings/
- Mayo Clinic on Aerobic Exercise: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aerobic-exercise/EP00002/NSECTIONGROUP=2
- About Kenneth Cooper: http://www.cooperaerobics.com/About-Cooper/Dr–Kenneth-Cooper.aspx
- Cooper’s Definition of aerobics was found here: http://www.cooperaerobics.com/About-Cooper/Aerobics.aspx
- WebMd’s link to optimal heart rate calculator: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/healthtool-target-heart-rate-calculator
- Mayo Clinic’s List of Calories Burt with various Activities: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00109
- NIH article on physical activity/energy balance. This is where they define a pound of fat having 3600 calories http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih4/Energy/activities/508/dbalance/reference/dbalance_ref.htm#sec2c
- Calorie Count of Blueberry scone: http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-starbucks-coffee-blueberry-scone-i57011
- Calorie Counts of Starbuck’s Coffees: http://dietbites.com/calories-in-starbucks-coffee.html