- 10 Aerobic Exercise Examples: How to, Benefits, and More
- Easy Aerobic Exercises You Can Perform at Home
- How to Exercise with Limited Mobility
- Don’t let injury, disability, illness, or weight problems get in the way. These chair exercises and other simple fitness tips can keep you active.
- What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?
- Setting yourself up for exercise success
- Overcoming mental and emotional barriers to exercise
- How to exercise with an injury or disability
- How to exercise in a chair or wheelchair
- How to exercise if you’re overweight or have diabetes
10 Aerobic Exercise Examples: How to, Benefits, and More
Cardiovascular exercises can be done at home. There are many you can do with little to no equipment, too. Always warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before starting any exercise.
Equipment: gym shoes (sneakers), jump rope
Benefits: Jumping rope helps develop better body awareness, hand-foot coordination, and agility.
Safety: Your jump rope should be adjusted for your height. Stand with both feet on the middle of the rope and extend the handles to your armpits. That’s the height you’re going for. If it’s too long, cut or tie it to avoid tripping on the rope.
Duration and frequency: 15 to 25 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week
Following a jump rope circuit is a great indoor or outdoor activity, though you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of space. Your circuit routine should take 15 to 25 minutes to complete.
If you’re a beginner:
- Start by jogging forward as you swing the jump rope over your head and under your feet. Do this move for 15 seconds.
- Next, reverse your direction and jog backward as you continue to swing the jump rope. Do this move for 15 seconds.
- Finish your set by doing a hopscotch jump for 15 seconds. To do this move, jump rope in place, and as you jump, alternate between jumping your feet out to the sides and then back to the center, similar to how you’d move them while doing jumping jacks. Do this move for 15 seconds.
- Rest for 15 seconds between sets.
- Repeat 18 times.
If you’re an intermediate exerciser, you can perform the moves for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds between sets. The advanced circuit should be performed for 60 seconds at a time, followed by 60 seconds of rest.
Aerobic strength circuit
Equipment: gym shoes (sneakers), sturdy chair or couch for dips
Benefits: This exercise increases heart and cardiovascular health, builds up strength, and tones major muscle groups.
Safety: Focus on proper form with each exercise to avoid injury. Keep your heart rate at a moderate level throughout. You should be able to carry on a brief conversation during this exercise.
Duration and frequency: 15 to 25 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week
This aerobic circuit is designed to get your heart rate up. Perform the following strength exercises for 1 minute:
- torso twist
Then jog or march in place for 1 minute for your active rest. This is one circuit. Repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times. You can rest for up to 5 minutes between circuits. Cool down afterward with some light stretching.
Running or jogging
Equipment: running shoes
Benefits: Running is one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise. It can improve heart health, burn fat and calories, and lift your mood, just to name a few.
Safety concerns: Choose well-lit, populated running routes. Let someone know where you’ll be.
Duration and frequency: 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week
If you’re a beginner, run for 20 to 30 minutes twice a week. Your pace should be conversational during the run. You can alternate between 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking to start. To stay injury-free, always stretch after your run.
Equipment: gym shoes (sneakers)
Benefits: Walking daily can reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.
Safety: Walk in well-lit and populated areas. Choose shoes that offer good ankle support to reduce your risk for injury.
Duration and frequency: 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes 5 days a week
If walking is your main form of exercise, aim to get 150 minutes per week. This can be broken down into 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week. Or, walk briskly for 10 minutes at a time, 3 times each day.
You can also use a fitness tracker to keep tabs on how many steps you take each day. If your goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day, start with your base (current amount you walk) and slowly up your daily step count. You can do this by increasing your daily steps by an extra 500 to 1,000 steps a day every 1 to 2 weeks.
So, once you’ve identified your base, add an extra 500 to 1,000 steps. Then, 1 to 2 weeks later, increase your daily step count by an additional 500 to 1,000 steps.
Easy Aerobic Exercises You Can Perform at Home
The word ‘aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. So any physical activity that makes you move your major muscle groups(legs), in a rhythmic, systematic manner, elevates your heart rate and creates a demand for oxygen for a sustained period( at least 20 minutes), is called an aerobic activity.
The benefits of aerobics are plenty. Studies have found that it lowers the risk of heart disease, and regulates blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For diabetics, it has an insulin-like effect, and hence keeps a check on blood sugar. Regular aerobics improves your respiratory function, and is therefore beneficial to those suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailments.
Apart from these, it is great for weight loss, strengthening your bones and joints and improving your blood circulation to release endorphins (the happy hormones).
5 Tips to Keep in Mind
Before you start your aerobics session at home, here are some pointers –
1. Engage in an aerobic activity at least 3 times a week, for a minimum duration of 20 minutes and at an intensity that makes you breathless and yet enables you to talk. About a 5-7 on a scale of 1-10 in terms of perceived levels of exertion. It should be moderate to moderately hard.2. Start gradually in terms of duration and intensity. Warm up adequately before picking up the pace. Ensure that proper form, posture and alignment are being maintained throughout.
3. Include a cool down to gradually bring down your heart rate and some stretches thereafter.
4. In case of any orthopaedic issues, keep the impact low. Avoid high impact activities or activities that have frequent and quick directional changes.
5. Swimming or aqua fitness is great for those with arthritis and other joint issues.
Six Aerobic Exercises That Can be Done at Home
1. Bear Crawls
The longest length of your living/bedroom can be utilised to do some bear crawls. You need to use your hands and feet with your hips slightly higher than your knee, and crawl from one end of the room to the other for a few minutes. Then you can do shuttle runs for the next couple of minutes. I.e. run between the two ends as quickly as you can, followed by brisk walk or jog. You can repeat this above circuit 3-4 times before cooling down.
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You can do this activity in several different ways. For starters, skip at an intensity that you can sustain for as long as you can. Walk around and recover for a bit and then repeat that process for 15-20 minutes at least. Skipping is a high impact activity, so make sure your knees are slightly soft when you land. Ensure that you wear appropriate shoes for it. Avoid if you have any orthopaedic issues.
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3. Cardio Circuits
You can do cardio circuits of skipping, jogging in place and knee ups. Perform 2-3 minutes of each in a circuit and repeat 3-4 times.
Scale up the intensity by running and brisk walk to decrease it. Same with the alternating knee ups. You can hop to bring down the intensity.
4. The Five Minute Circuit
You can start with:
1 Minute of alternating travel lunges: Hands on waist or overhead ( harder variation).Step forward with your right leg and lunge till the knee touches the ground, lift yourself up by pushing off through the heels, bring left leg in and then place left leg forward to lunge and repeat.
1 Minute of Burpees: Place your hands on the floor by pushing your hips back and bending you knees. Extend the right leg out and then left leg to plank position. Allow chest to touch the ground. Then push off with your hands to a push up position, bring right leg in and then the left leg and extend knees and hips to standing. A harder variation of the Burpee is to clap your hands overhead as you jump, push hip back and bend knees to get hands on the ground. Jump to plank. Let your chest touch the ground. Push up to plank position. Jump and get both feet in to low squat and then jump to standing.
1 Minute of Skipping: You can skip to your desired intensity.
1 Minute of Step Touches: Step out with your right leg to the side and bring the left leg in and tap. Repeat with left leg. Harder version can be done by leaping with your right leg to the side, bring the left leg in but do not let it touch the ground and repeat with left leg. (speed skating).
1 minute of Jogging/Jumping Jacks/ Brisk Walk: Take a minutes rest after the circuit and repeat 3-4 times. There is no rest period in the five minute circuit. After a minute seamlessly move onto the next exercise.
5. Squat Jumps + Skier + Mountain Climbers + Jumping Jacks
Squat Jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned out slightly. Push your hips back and lower till it drops below knee level and jump up or stand. Repeat for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
Skier: Spilt jump with right leg in front and the left leg back and with left arm going overhead and right arm at the back, switch and repeat for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds.
Mountain Climbers: in the plank position, keeping your hips stable and aligned with shoulders and ankles in a diagonal straight line, bring right knee in towards right elbow and quickly switch. Repeat for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
Jumping Jacks: jump out with both feet to side and arms going overhead at the same time. Jump and bring feet and arms in. Repeat for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
Repeat from squat jump 4-5 times.
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6: Squats + Mountain Climbers + Sit Ups
Squat jumps for 30 seconds and hold the bottom of the squat for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
Mountain climbers for 30 seconds, hold plank for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
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Sit ups: lie on you back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Keeping arms over head, let it touch the ground and sit up to allow your hands to reach towards feet and shoulder to cross the hips. Perform for 30 seconds and hold sit up position at the top for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.
Repeat from squat jump for 4-5 times.
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How to Exercise with Limited Mobility
Don’t let injury, disability, illness, or weight problems get in the way. These chair exercises and other simple fitness tips can keep you active.
You don’t need to have full mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, there are still plenty of ways you can use exercise to boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance your self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that energize your mood, relieve stress, boost your self-esteem, and trigger an overall sense of well-being. If you’re a regular exerciser currently sidelined with an injury, you’ve probably noticed how inactivity has caused your mood and energy levels to sink. This is understandable: exercise has such a powerful effect on mood that it can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. However, an injury doesn’t mean your mental and emotional health is doomed to decline. While some injuries respond best to total rest, most simply require you to reevaluate your exercise routine with help from your doctor or physical therapist.
If you have a disability, severe weight problem, chronic breathing condition, diabetes, arthritis, or other ongoing illness, you may think that your health problems make it impossible for you to exercise effectively, if at all. Or perhaps you’ve become frail with age and are worried about falling or injuring yourself if you try to exercise. The truth is, regardless of your age, current physical condition, and whether you’ve exercised in the past or not, there are plenty of ways to overcome your mobility issues and reap the physical, mental, and emotional rewards of exercise.
What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?
It’s important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits. Mobility issues inevitably make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, you should aim to incorporate three different types of exercise into your routines:
Cardiovascular exercises that raise your heart rate and increase your endurance. These can include walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aquajogging”. Many people with mobility issues find exercising in water especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. Even if you’re confined to a chair or wheelchair, it’s still possible to perform cardiovascular exercise.
Strength training exercises involve using weights or other resistance to build muscle and bone mass, improve balance, and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, your focus will be on upper body strength training. Similarly, if you have a shoulder injury, for example, your focus will be more on strength training your legs and core.
Flexibility exercises help enhance your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness. These may include stretching exercises and yoga. Even if you have limited mobility in your legs, for example, you may still benefit from stretches and flexibility exercises to prevent or delay further muscle atrophy.
Setting yourself up for exercise success
To exercise successfully with limited mobility, illness, or weight problems, start by getting medical clearance. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or other health care provider about activities suitable for your medical condition or mobility issue.
Talking to your doctor about exercise
Your doctor or physical therapist can help you find a suitable exercise routine. Ask:
- How much exercise can I do each day and each week?
- What type of exercise should I do?
- What exercises or activities should I avoid?
- Should I take medication at a certain time around my exercise routine?
Starting an exercise routine
Start slow and gradually increase your activity level. Start with an activity you enjoy, go at your own pace, and keep your goals manageable. Accomplishing even the smallest fitness goals will help you gain body confidence and keep you motivated.
Make exercise part of your daily life. Plan to exercise at the same time every day and combine a variety of exercises to keep you from getting bored.
Stick with it. It takes about a month for a new activity to become a habit. Write down your reasons for exercising and a list of goals and post them somewhere visible to keep you motivated. Focus on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve. It’s easier to stay motivated if you enjoy what you’re doing, so find ways to make exercise fun. Listen to music or watch a TV show while you workout, or exercise with friends.
Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.
Staying safe when exercising
Stop exercising if you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or clammy hands. Listening to your body is the best way to avoid injury. If you continually experience pain after 15 minutes of exercise, for example, limit your workouts to 5 or 10 minutes and instead exercise more frequently.
Avoid activity involving an injured body part. If you have an upper body injury, exercise your lower body while the injury heals, and vice versa. When exercising after an injury has healed, start back slowly, using lighter weights and less resistance
Warm up, stretch, and cool down. Warm up with a few minutes of light activity such as walking, arm swinging, and shoulder rolls, followed by some light stretching (avoid deep stretches when your muscles are cold). After your exercise routine, whether it’s cardiovascular, strength training, or flexibility exercise, cool down with a few more minutes of light activity and deeper stretching.
Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated.
Wear appropriate clothing, such as supportive footwear and comfortable clothes that won’t restrict your movement.
Getting more out of your workouts
Add a mindfulness element. Whether you’re exercising in a chair or walking outside, you’ll experience a greater benefit if you pay attention to your body instead of zoning out. By really focusing on how your body feels as you exercise—the rhythm of your breathing, your feet striking the ground, your muscles tightening as you lift weights, for example—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but may also experience greater benefits to your mood and sense of well-being.
Overcoming mental and emotional barriers to exercise
As well as the physical challenges you face, you may also experience mental or emotional barriers to exercising. It’s common for people to feel self-conscious about their weight, disability, illness, or injury, and want to avoid working out in public places. Some older people find that they’re fearful about falling or otherwise injuring themselves.
Don’t focus on your mobility or health issue. Instead of worrying about the activities you can’t enjoy, concentrate on finding activities that you can.
The more physical challenges you face, the more creative you’ll need to be to find an exercise routine that works for you. If you used to enjoy jogging or cycling, for example, but injury, disability, or illness means that they’re no longer options, be prepared to try new exercises. With some experimenting, it’s very possible that you’ll find something you enjoy just as much.
Be proud when you make the effort to exercise, even if it’s not very successful at first. It will get easier the more you practice.
|Barrier to exercise||Suggestion|
|I’m self-conscious about my weight, injury, or disability.||Exercise doesn’t have to mean working out in a crowded gym. You can try exercising early in the morning to avoid the crowds, or skip the gym altogether. If you can afford it, a personal trainer will come to your home or workout with you at a private studio. Walking, swimming, or exercising in a class with others who have similar physical limitations can make you feel less self-conscious. There are also plenty of inexpensive ways to exercise privately at home.|
|I’m scared of injury.||Choose low-risk activities, such as walking or chair-bound exercises, and warm-up and cool-down correctly to avoid muscle strains and other injuries.|
|I can’t motivate myself.||Explain your exercise goals to friends and family and ask them to support and encourage you. Better still, find a friend to exercise with. You can motivate each other and turn your workouts into a social event.|
|I’m not coordinated or athletic.||Choose exercise that requires little or no skill, such as walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or aquajogging (running in a swimming pool).|
|Exercise is boring.||But video games are fun. If traditional exercise is not for you, try playing activity-based video games, known as “exergames.” Games that simulate bowling, tennis, or boxing, for example, can all be played seated in a chair or wheelchair and are fun ways to burn calories and elevate your heart rate, either alone or playing along with friends.|
How to exercise with an injury or disability
Since people with disabilities or long-term injuries have a tendency to live less-active lifestyles, it can be even more important for you to exercise on a regular basis.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults with disabilities should aim for:
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular activity (or a combination of both), with each workout lasting for at least 10 minutes.
- Two or more sessions a week of moderate- or high-intensity strength-training activities involving all the major muscle groups.
If your disability or injury makes it impossible for you to meet these guidelines, aim to engage in regular physical activity according to your ability, and avoid inactivity whenever possible.
Workouts for upper body injury or disability
Depending on the location and nature of your injury or disability, you may still be able to walk, jog, use an elliptical machine, or even swim using flotation aids. If not, try using a stationary upright or recumbent bike for cardiovascular exercise.
When it comes to strength training, your injury or disability may limit your use of free weights and resistance bands, or may just mean you have to reduce the weight or level of resistance. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist for safe ways to work around the injury or disability, and make use of exercise machines in a gym or health club, especially those that focus on the lower body.
If you experience joint problems from arthritis or an injury, for example, a doctor or physical therapist may recommend isometric exercises to help you maintain muscle strength or prevent further muscle deterioration. Isometric exercises require you to push against immovable objects or another body part without changing the muscle length or moving the joint.
Electro muscle stimulation
If you’ve experienced muscle loss from an injury, disability, or a long period of immobility, electro muscle stimulation may be used to increase blood circulation and range of motion in a muscle. Muscles are gently contracted with an electrical current transmitted via electrodes placed on the skin.
How to exercise in a chair or wheelchair
Chair-bound exercises are ideal for people with lower body injuries or disabilities, those with weight problems or diabetes, and frail seniors looking to reduce their risk of falling. Cardiovascular and flexibility chair exercises can help improve posture and reduce back pain, while any chair exercise can help alleviate body sores caused by sitting in the same position for long periods. They’re also a great way to squeeze in a workout while you’re watching TV.
- If possible, choose a chair that allows you to keep your knees at 90 degrees when seated. If you’re in a wheelchair, securely apply the brakes or otherwise immobilize the chair.
- Try to sit up tall while exercising and use your abs to maintain good posture.
- If you suffer from high blood pressure, check your blood pressure before exercising and avoid chair exercises that involve weights.
- Test your blood sugar before and after exercise if you take diabetes medication that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Cardiovascular exercise in a chair or wheelchair
Chair aerobics, a series of seated repetitive movements, will raise your heart rate and help you burn calories, as will many strength training exercises when performed at a fast pace with a high number of repetitions. In fact, any rapid, repetitive movements offer aerobic benefits and can also help loosen stiff joints.
- Wrap a lightweight resistance band under your chair (or bed or couch, even) and perform rapid resistance exercises, such as chest presses, for a count of one second up and two seconds down. Try several different exercises to start, with 20 to 30 reps per exercise, and gradually increase the number of exercises, reps, and total workout time as your endurance improves.
- Simple air-punching, with or without hand weights, is an easy cardio exercise from a seated position, and can be fun when playing along with a Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 video game.
- Many swimming pools and health clubs offer pool-therapy programs with access for wheelchair users. If you have some leg function, try a water aerobics class.
- Some gyms offer wheelchair-training machines that make arm-bicycling and rowing possible. For a similar exercise at home, some portable pedal machines can be used with the hands when secured to a table in front of you.
If you want to add competition to your workouts, several organizations offer adaptive exercise programs and competitions for sports such as basketball, track and field, volleyball, and weightlifting.
Many traditional upper body exercises can be executed from a seated position using dumbbells, resistant bands, or anything that is weighted and fits in your hand, like soup cans.
- Perform exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and triceps extensions using heavier weights and more resistance than you would for cardio exercises. Aim for two to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise, adding weight and more exercises as your strength improves.
- Resistance bands can be attached to furniture, a doorknob, or your chair. Use these for pull-downs, shoulder rotations, and arm and leg-extensions.
If you’re in a wheelchair or have limited mobility in your legs, stretching throughout the day can help reduce pain and pressure on your muscles that often accompanies sitting for long periods. Stretching while lying down or practicing yoga or Tai Chi in a chair can also help increase flexibility and improve your range of motion.
To ensure yoga or Tai Chi is practiced correctly, it’s best to learn by attending group classes, hiring a private teacher, or at least following video instructions (see Resources section below).
Chair yoga and Tai Chi
Most yoga poses can be modified or adapted depending on your physical mobility, weight, age, medical condition, and any injury or disability. Chair yoga is ideal if you have a disability, injury, or a medical condition such as arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, or multiple sclerosis. Similarly, seated versions of Tai Chi exercises can also be practiced in a chair or a wheelchair to improve flexibility, strength, and relaxation.
How to exercise if you’re overweight or have diabetes
Exercise can play a vital role in reducing weight and managing type 2 diabetes. It can stabilize blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and slow the progression of neuropathy. But it can be daunting to start an exercise routine if you’re severely overweight. Your size can make it harder to bend or move correctly, and even if you feel comfortable exercising in a gym, you may have difficulty finding suitable equipment. When choosing a gym, make sure it offers exercise machines and weight benches that can support larger people.
Whatever your size, there are plenty of alternatives to health clubs. A good first step to exercising is to incorporate more activity into your everyday life. Gardening, walking to the store, washing the car, sweeping the patio, or pacing while talking on the phone are all easy ways to get moving. Even small activities can add up over the course of a day, especially when you combine them with short periods of scheduled exercise as well.
- Weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing, and climbing stairs use your own body weight as resistance. Start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase your workout times. Make activities more enjoyable by walking with a dog, dancing with a friend, or climbing stairs to your favorite music.
- If you experience pain in your feet or joints when you stand, try non weight-bearing activities. Water-based activities such as swimming, aquajogging, or water aerobics place less stress on your feet and joints. Look for special classes at your local health club, YMCA, or swim center where you can exercise with other larger people. Other non weight-bearing activities include chair exercises (see above).
- A portable pedal exerciser is a simple device that you can use while sitting in any comfortable chair at home while you watch TV—or even under your desk at work.
- Many larger people find that using an exercise ball is more comfortable than a weight bench. Or you can perform simple strength training exercises in a chair.
- If you opt to invest in home exercise equipment, check the weight guidelines, and if possible, try the equipment out first to make sure it’s a comfortable fit.
- While strength training at home, it’s important to ensure that you’re maintaining good posture and performing each exercise correctly. Schedule a session with a personal trainer or ask a knowledgeable friend or relative to check your form.
- Gentle yoga or tai chi are great ways to improve flexibility and posture, as well reduce stress and anxiety.