Types of Aerobic Exercise: Unlocking the Full Potential of Aerobic Training

You may already be familiar with running and cycling, classic staples of aerobic exercise that let you hit peak calorie-burning zones while sculpting your legs and glutes. But have you ventured beyond the well-trodden paths of these popular workouts?

aerobic exercise

In the endless ocean of fitness trends and workout plans, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Yet, amidst the chaos, there’s one form of exercise that stands the test of time: aerobic training. Not only does it offer an array of health benefits, but it also brings versatility to your fitness routine. But what exactly is aerobic training, and how can you maximize its effectiveness? Let’s dive in.

What is Aerobic Training?

Often mistaken as just another term for cardio, aerobic training is, in fact, an orchestrated strategy to improve your cardiovascular health, lung capacity, and overall stamina. By elevating your heart rate within a specific target zone, aerobic activities help you unlock not only weight loss but also enhanced muscle tone and mental well-being.

The Science Behind It

Aerobic exercises primarily tap into the fat stores for energy. The body leans on aerobic metabolism when the exercise intensity is moderate, making it ideal for long-term, sustainable energy use. This is the reason why aerobic activities are often recommended for those seeking weight loss or athletic stamina.

Aerobic Exercises and Their Unique Benefits


  • Intensity: Low-Moderate
  • Calories Burned: Approximately 300 per hour

While walking was once lauded as the ideal aerobic exercise for fat burning and overall health improvement, it’s now considered one of the least effective cardio exercises in terms of intensity. This doesn’t make it a bad choice; it just means that it’s not for everyone, especially those looking for high-intensity workouts.


  • Ideal for all age groups and fitness levels
  • Extremely accessible; requires no special equipment
  • Promotes joint health

Walking can serve as a stepping stone to more intense aerobic activities or as an active recovery on rest days. The metabolic rate remains elevated for only 1-2 hours post-walk, whereas high-intensity cardio can accelerate your metabolism for 24 hours or more.

Suggested Walking Routine:

  • Frequency: Three times a week.
  • Intensity: 50-70% of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
  • Duration: 20-45 minutes.

Jogging: Your Road to Balanced Fitness

  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Calories Burned: Approximately 500 per hour

Jogging strikes a perfect balance by offering relatively high aerobic intensity without crossing the anaerobic threshold, where carbohydrates become the primary energy source. Similar to walking, jogging engages all lower body muscles but to a significantly greater extent. Specifically, it involves the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh, quadriceps, calves, and the soleus muscles in the shins. Additionally, arm muscles are also engaged, offering an extra lipolytic (fat-burning) effect.


  • Engages various muscle groups
  • A versatile activity with adjustable intensity
  • Excellent for weight loss and muscle definition

Training Plan for Beginner Joggers:

  • Frequency: Three times a week.
  • Intensity: 65-85% of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
  • Duration: 20-30 minutes.

Cycling: Your Eco-Friendly Fitness Friend

  • Intensity: Moderate-High
  • Calories Burned: Approximately 600 per hour

Cycling engages the same muscle groups as running but has the distinct advantage of being a low-impact exercise, which is easier on the joints. This makes it an ideal exercise for almost anyone, except those with specific injuries. You can pedal either on an exercise bike (an ideal option for those focused on fat loss as there are fewer distractions) or out on regular roads.


  • Low impact on joints
  • Strengthens lower body muscles
  • Ideal for high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Cycling easily fits into the paradigm of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) as you can switch from low to maximum intensity in fractions of a second. This offers a comprehensive lower body workout while minimizing stress on the joints, making it an appealing option for a wide range of fitness goals.

Training Plan for Beginner Cyclists:

  • Frequency: Three times a week.
  • Intensity: 65-85% of MHR.
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes.

Jump Roping: The Game Changer

  • Intensity: High
  • Calories Burned: Over 1000 per hour

If done correctly, it’s an excellent aerobic exercise that also can improve the muscular definition of the calves and the shoulder muscles, as it actively engages these muscle groups. Despite its intense nature requiring immense skill, focus, and patience, jump roping is often overlooked as an aerobic activity. It actually allows for an even greater caloric burn (over 1000 calories per hour) than activities like rowing. It is best suited for short, high-intensity intervals due to the high-impact stress it places on the lower limb joints, which could lead to injuries if not managed correctly.


  • Maximum caloric burn
  • Enhances agility, speed, and coordination
  • Excellent for short, high-intensity workouts

Training Plan for Beginners:

  • Frequency: Two to three times a week.
  • Intensity: Short high-intensity intervals with periods of rest.
  • Duration: 10-20 minutes with rest intervals to manage joint stress.

The Art of Crafting an Aerobic Training Plan

When structuring your aerobic training regimen, consider the F.I.T.T principle: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. Evaluate your current fitness level, your goals, and how much time you can allocate to exercise. This will guide you in choosing the right type of aerobic exercise and how frequently you should engage in it.

To ease you into the world of aerobics, watch a 45-minute beginner’s workout video. This aerobic session aims to boost your general fitness and aid you in achieving a healthier weight.

This workout video is created by InstructorLive: National Health Service

Aerobics workout for beginners, description of video

Read also: Weight Loss Workout: Shedding Pounds the Smart Way

Types of Aerobic Exercise: A Panorama of Possibilities

Aerobic exercise is versatile, catering to various preferences and physical capabilities. Here are some popular options:

  • Running and Jogging: This quintessential form of aerobic exercise is accessible and effective. All you need is a pair of quality running shoes.
  • Cycling: This is a great option if you’re looking for a lower-impact exercise that still provides excellent cardiovascular benefits. Both stationary and road cycling are effective.
  • Swimming: This full-body workout is not only refreshing but also low-impact, making it suitable for people of all ages and those with joint issues.
  • Dance Aerobics: Classes like Zumba or Jazzercise make the workout fun and engaging. These classes often incorporate different dance styles and are accompanied by music.
  • Rowing: A rowing machine can provide a potent aerobic workout that also engages your upper body and core, providing a well-rounded exercise experience.
  • Elliptical Training: Using an elliptical machine can also offer a good cardiovascular workout. Most machines have handlebars that engage the upper body as well.
  • Jump Rope: Simple yet effective, jumping rope can be a fantastic aerobic workout that also improves coordination.
  • Speed Walking: If running is not your thing, speed walking is a lower-impact option that still offers good aerobic benefits.
  • Cross-Country Skiing: This is a seasonal, full-body workout that can be incredibly engaging and fun.
  • Hiking: Not just a workout for your body, hiking is a feast for your senses, harmonizing to offer an invigorating physical workout that also boosts mental well-being.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to aerobic training. It’s a flexible framework that allows you to customize your regimen based on your unique needs. Whether you’re an elite athlete or someone simply trying to lose a few pounds, incorporating a well-thought-out aerobic training plan can be the catalyst you need to reach your fitness goals. So tie those laces, hop on that bike, or grab a jump rope, and take a step towards a fitter, healthier you.

Remember, the best aerobic exercise for you is one that you enjoy and will stick with in the long term.