Working the cardiovascular system through aerobics

Aerobics has come a long way since Jane Fonda first donned her legwarmers! The basic premise remains, however: aerobics involves exercising to music, using repetitive patterns of movement to work the cardiovascular system and burn calories. Many aerobics classes have moved more towards dance recently – and so aren’t the best choice for the choreographically challenged – but there is also a move back towards more simple movement patterns, where the focus is on getting a good workout rather than learning moves you can take to the dancefloor.

A typical aerobics class will begin with a warm-up, then move into the ‘aerobic’ phase where heart rate stays elevated, and then progress to a cool-down before hitting the floor for some body conditioning exercises and stretching.

Aerobics can be ‘high impact’ or 'low impact’:

High impact’ aerobics simply means that the impact is greater, because moves in which both feet are off the floor simultaneously are involved – such as star jumps and jogging on the spot.

Low impact’ aerobics means that one foot is always in contact with the floor during a movement – such as when you’re marching on the spot, rather than jogging.

Combinations of the two (high/low impact) are also common.

CV fitness rating High
Strength rating Low
Flexibility rating Moderate
Challenge rating Dependent on the individual class – and how hard you work.
Complexity rating Again, dependent on the individual class.
Benefits High-impact moves are weight-bearing, so are good for boosting bone density.


Avoid classes with names such as ‘Cardiosalsa’ and ‘Funk Aerobics’ if you wish to avoid more dance-oriented workouts.

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