Aerobic Exercise: Importance, Benefits, and Examples

Aerobic exercise, encompassing activities such as swimming, jogging, and cycling, serves as a cornerstone of any comprehensive fitness regimen. Regarded for its myriad of health benefits, aerobic exercise stimulates the heart and respiratory rate to increase oxygen flow to the muscles, thereby enhancing overall endurance and cardiovascular health. This article covers the definition, importance, and benefits of aerobic exercise, accompanied by a selection of examples to help kickstart or amplify your fitness journey.

What is an Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is a type of physical activity that primarily uses your large muscle groups, is rhythmic in nature, and can be sustained for extended periods. From the Greek word “aerobios” meaning “living in air,” aerobic exercise increases your breathing and heart rate, improving the body’s oxygen consumption and promoting the circulation of oxygen through the blood.

Aerobic exercise has been extensively studied for its numerous health advantages. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to push the body’s cardiorespiratory system, strengthening the heart and lungs while burning calories and boosting the metabolism. Its benefits extend to various aspects of health, from physical to mental wellbeing.

What is the importance of Aerobic Exercise?

The importance of aerobic exercise lies in its multi-faceted contributions to health. It serves as a key player in the battle against sedentary lifestyle diseases, combating conditions such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer. Additionally, it bolsters mental health, alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving mood, and promoting better sleep.

What is the importance of Aerobic
What is the importance of Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight, improving muscle strength and balance, boosting stamina, and enhancing the body’s ability to utilize fat for energy. Beyond the health benefits, it also provides a social outlet and can be a fun, enjoyable activity that enriches one’s quality of life.

What are the benefits of Aerobic Exercise?

There are six main benefits of aerobic exercises, these include improved cardiovascular health, boosting respiratory function, supporting weight management, enhancing mental wellbeing, boosting immune functioning, and improving musculoskeletal health.

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health: Regular aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, reduces the risk of heart disease, and improves overall cardiovascular health.
  • Boosts Respiratory Function: It increases lung capacity and efficiency in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • Supports Weight Management: It aids in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight by increasing the metabolic rate and burning calories.
  • Enhances Mental Wellbeing: Regular cardio exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve self-esteem, and promote better sleep.
  • Boosts Immune Function: It stimulates the immune system, reducing susceptibility to viral illnesses and other diseases.
  • Improves Musculoskeletal Health: Regular aerobic activity strengthens muscles and bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and improving balance and coordination.

What are examples of Aerobic Exercise?

There are numerous types of aerobic exercises suited to various fitness levels and preferences. Some of the most effective aerobic exercises include the following twelve.

  1. Elliptical
  2. Swimming
  3. Stationary Bike
  4. Zumba
  5. Walking
  6. Running
  7. Cycling
  8. Jogging
  9. Rowing
  10. Cardio Kickboxing
  11. Jumping Rope
  12. Aerobic Strength Circuit

Determining the best aerobic exercise largely depends on personal preferences, fitness levels, and specific health and fitness goals. Each of these exercises offers unique benefits and can be adapted to suit individual needs.

1. Elliptical

The elliptical trainer, also known as cross-trainer, is a stationary exercise machine that simulates stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure on the joints. This low-impact exercise is ideal for people with joint conditions or those undergoing rehabilitation. It can typically be done for about 20-30 minutes, either at the gym or at home with personal equipment.

The pros of using an elliptical include full-body workouts, improved balance, and weight loss, while the primary con is that it may be less dynamic compared to other aerobic exercises.

2. Swimming

Swimming is a full-body workout that involves moving against the resistance of water, making it a great way to increase overall strength and endurance. The strokes and techniques can be varied, making the exercise duration flexible, typically around 30 minutes to an hour. Swimming can be done at a public pool, gym, or personal pools if available.

The pros of swimming include low impact on joints, cooling effect, and versatility, while the cons include the need for a swimming pool and the necessity to learn swimming techniques.

3. Stationary Bike

Stationary biking offers a low-impact cardiovascular workout that’s easy on the joints but still boosts heart health and burns calories. The workout typically lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour. You can cycle on a stationary bike at the gym or invest in one for home use. Pros include its flexibility for interval training and gentleness on joints, while the cons include the cost of personal equipment and potentially less exciting than outdoor cycling.

4. Zumba

Zumba is a dance-based aerobic workout that combines movements from various dance styles and martial arts, set to upbeat music. A typical Zumba session lasts for about an hour and can be done at a fitness center or at home with online classes. Pros include fun and engaging routines and high caloric burn, while the cons may include the potential for injury if not properly performed and the need for coordination.

5. Walking

Walking is a low-impact exercise that’s safe and easy for beginners. It can be done for as long or short as desired, making it a flexible aerobic activity. Walking can be performed anywhere, whether it’s around the neighborhood, at a park, or on a treadmill. Pros include the simplicity, accessibility, and suitability for all fitness levels, while the cons may include less calorie burn compared to more intense workouts.

6. Running

Running is a high-impact aerobic exercise that provides a significant calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits. The duration can vary widely based on personal fitness levels and goals, but typically, a run might last 20 minutes to an hour. This exercise can be done both outdoors or on a treadmill at the gym or home. Pros include its potential for high-calorie burn, improved cardiovascular health, and stress relief, while cons include potential for injury if proper form and recovery are not taken into account.

7. Cycling

Cycling is an efficient way to get a cardio workout while also building strength in the lower body. Whether done on a stationary bike or a traditional bicycle, the duration of the exercise can vary from 30 minutes to an hour or more. Cycling can be done indoors at a gym, at home with your own equipment, or outdoors. Pros of cycling include its low impact nature, suitability for all levels, and potential for fun outdoor exercise. Cons may include the potential for strain or injury if proper form isn’t used, and the cost of a bicycle or stationary bike.

8. Jogging

Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace. The primary intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running. Typically, a jogging session might last 20 to 30 minutes. Jogging can be performed anywhere and does not require any equipment. The pros of jogging are its simplicity, accessibility, and potential for enjoying outdoor scenery, while the cons include the potential for impact-related injuries.

9. Rowing

Rowing is a full-body workout that can boost both your cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. This exercise, which usually lasts around 20-30 minutes, can be done on a rowing machine at the gym or at home, if you have the equipment.

The pros of rowing are that it works multiple major muscle groups, including the back, legs, arms, and core. It also offers a solid calorie burn. Cons include the need for access to a rowing machine and the need for proper technique to avoid back strain.

10. Cardio Kickboxing

Cardio kickboxing is a group fitness class that combines martial arts techniques with fast-paced cardio. This high-energy workout challenges the beginner and elite athlete alike. A typical session lasts for about an hour. Cardio kickboxing classes can be found at many gyms, or you can do a workout at home using a video.

Cardio Kickboxing 2
Cardio Kickboxing

The pros of cardio kickboxing include the high energy expenditure and the enhancement of balance and coordination, while the cons include the risk of injury if movements are performed incorrectly. For that reason, it is best to join an actual kickboxing gym to ensure proper form and to help motivate you.

11. Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is a high-intensity aerobic exercise that is great for cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and burning calories. A typical jumping rope session can last from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the person’s fitness level. Jumping rope can be done virtually anywhere, at home or at the gym. The pros include its affordability, portability, and high calorie-burning potential, but the cons are that it may be challenging for beginners, and there’s a risk of injury if not performed correctly.

12. Aerobic Strength Circuit

An aerobic strength circuit involves alternating aerobic exercises with strength training exercises and can provide both cardio and strength benefits in one workout. A session usually lasts between 30 to 60 minutes. It can be done at the gym, where various equipment is available, or at home with some basic tools. The pros include versatility and time-efficiency, while the cons include the potential need for various pieces of equipment and a somewhat more complex workout to plan.

What is the Best Aerobic Exercise for Weight Loss?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which includes exercises like running, jumping rope, and cardio kickboxing, is often considered the best aerobic exercise for weight loss due to its high calorie-burning potential. HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by recovery periods, helping to burn more calories both during and after the workout.

Are Aerobic Exercises effective for weight loss?

Yes, aerobic exercises are highly effective for weight loss. They increase your heart rate, which results in calorie burning, enhancing weight loss efforts. Regular aerobic exercise can increase your metabolic rate, helping you burn calories even when you’re at rest. Combining aerobic exercise with a healthy diet is generally considered the best approach for weight loss.

Which Aerobic Exercise is the Best Low Impact Exercise?

If you are getting older in life, have an injury, are pregnant or just want to keep your muscles safe, you should consider a low impact exercise. For the best low impact exercises, consider focusing on workouts like rowers, walking, and stationary bikes.

How long should Aerobic Exercises last?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This can be broken down into smaller segments as needed, such as 30 minutes a day, five days a week. However, the duration can vary based on individual fitness levels and goals.

How long should you keep doing Aerobic Exercises?

Aerobic exercise should be a part of your regular fitness routine for the long term. As a lifelong habit, it provides ongoing cardiovascular health benefits, helps maintain weight, and contributes to overall wellness. The key is to choose activities that you enjoy and can sustain in the long run.

What are health risks of Aerobic Exercise?

While aerobic exercise is generally safe and beneficial, like any physical activity, it carries some risks. These can include injuries from overuse, such as stress fractures or tendinitis, especially without proper form or equipment. Injuries can also occur if improper form is utilized.

What are health risks of Aerobic
What are health risks of Aerobic Exercise?

There is also a risk of cardiovascular events, particularly in those with pre-existing heart conditions. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen, particularly if you have chronic health conditions.

  • Injuries from overuse
  • Injuries from improper form
  • Risk of cardiovascular events

Can Aerobic Exercise be done at home?

Yes, aerobic exercise can definitely be done at home. Many forms of aerobic exercise, such as jumping rope, running in place, performing aerobic routines, and using home exercise equipment, can be performed in the comfort of your own home. This convenience makes it easier for many people to incorporate aerobic exercise into their daily routines.

Is 20 minutes of Aerobics Exercise enough?

Yes and no. The answer on whether or not 20 minutes is enough really depends on your personal fitness goals and current health status. For beginners or those looking for a low-intensity workout, 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can be a good starting point.

However, for overall health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. For weight loss and significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness, you may need to do more.

What is the difference between Aerobic Exercise and Anaerobic Exercise?

Aerobic and anaerobic exercises serve different purposes and engage your body in distinct ways. Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, relies on the aerobic energy-generating process of cellular respiration and tends to be lower intensity but longer duration. It helps improve cardiovascular health and endurance.

On the other hand, anaerobic exercise, like weightlifting or sprinting, is characterized by short bursts of energy and tends to be high intensity. This form of exercise helps build muscle strength and power. While aerobic exercise uses oxygen to fuel your muscles, anaerobic exercise does not rely on oxygen and instead uses the energy stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity.

While both types of exercise are beneficial, they each have their strengths, and a balanced fitness program will incorporate both.

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Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.