If you shy away from aerobics because you think it means buying an expensive gym membership and spending hours a week exhausting yourself, then you could be missing out on what is actually an ideally inexpensive and time-efficient whole-body workout. Aerobic exercise is defined simply as any type of movement that gets your heart pumping and increases your oxygen intake. If you've recently taken the dog for a run, washed the windows, or gone dancing you've already given yourself some of the benefits of aerobics.

"When you exercise aerobically, you use large muscle groups, such as your legs and arms, and you increase your breathing and your heart rate," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

The benefits of aerobic exercise include:

  • A stronger immune system
  • Increased resistance to stress
  • Reduced risk of certain diseases
  • Weight loss and maintenance

Getting these benefits from aerobics takes less effort than you may think. You've probably noticed how just a brisk walk around the neighborhood wakes your body up, making you feel healthier and happier. Similarly, regular exercise of this type can improve overall health and mood.

The body continually burns calories to fulfill such basic physical needs as breathing, circulation and organ function. This rate of calorie-consumption is known as resting or basal metabolic rate. For any activity beyond this, the body needs more energy -- energy it gets by burning glycogen ?X the stored form of carbohydrates ?X and fat.

Aerobic exercise likewise burns calories. Although a fat calorie is the same about of energy as a glycogen calorie, you can vary your exercise to focus on burning one or the other. To burn fat, choose a low- to moderate-intensity activity that can be done over a longer time, such as swimming, power walking, or dancing.

Short-term, higher-intensity activities (anaerobic exercises), such as sprints or lifting weights, tend to burn glycogen. These short, intense activities, don't burn fat as effectively. They're also more stressful on the body and increase your risk of injury or of overstressing your cardiovascular system.

"The benefits of aerobic exercise for the heart are well known," says Dr. Laskowski. "Aerobic exercise challenges the heart, which is a muscle, in a positive way and stimulates it to grow stronger and more efficient. But your whole body also benefits."

The benefits of aerobic exercise include:

  • Increased life span. The link between exercise and increased life span was first scientifically proven in the Harvard Alumni Health Study, the results of which where published in 1986, in the New England Journal of Medicine. Further studies have supported this finding.
  • Improved immune system. People who exercise regularly are less vulnerable to minor viral illnesses, like colds and flu. It's thought aerobic exercise helps activate the immune system, preparing the body to fight off infection.
  • A more efficient heart. The healthier your heart is, the more blood it can pump with every beat and it therefore doesn't need to beat as fast during rest or exercise. A stronger heart is one of the reasons aerobics can help you live a longer, healthier life.
  • Weight maintenance. Aerobic exercise, combined with a healthy diet and appropriate strength training, can help you maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Lower risk of disease. The risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer are all increased by excess weight. As you lose excess weight, the risk decreases. In addition, weight-bearing aerobic activities, like walking, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and its complications. If you have arthritis or a condition that limits your ability to bear weight, you can use low-impact aerobic exercises, such as cycling or swimming and pool exercises, to improve your health without straining your joints.
  • Improved muscle health. Aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in your muscles, which enables the body to deliver oxygen to your muscles more efficiently and better remove irritating metabolic waste like lactic acid. This can ease chronic muscle-pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic lower back pain.
  • Increased stamina. You might be tired during and right after your workout, but over the long term, regular exercise will increase your stamina and reduce fatigue.
  • Improved mental health. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, which also reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

"For overall fitness, aerobic exercise, which increases stamina and endurance, should be combined with resistance training for increased strength and stretching for increased range of motion and flexibility," says Dr. Laskowski.

Before beginning any exercise program, talk with your doctor about developing an exercise routine that's right for you. This is especially important if you're over 40, overweight, smoke, drink, have a sedentary lifestyle or a chronic health condition.

Don't think you have to spend hours in the gym to see any effects. At least 30 minutes of activity is enough for most days of the week. At first, try not to overdo it. It may take a few weeks to build up to 20 or 30 minutes of continuous activity. Don't worry about the financial investment, either. Often a good pair of athletic shoes is all you need.Remember to always start your workout with a warm-up. Take a brisk walk for five to ten minutes then stretch out your muscles for five to ten minutes more before starting your main session of exercise.

"Don't stretch when your muscles are cold," Dr. Laskowski says. "Stretch when your muscles and joints are warmed up. This is when they are more elastic and more receptive to stretching. A good routine for a runner might be to walk for a bit, then stretch those muscles that you will use in running. After you run, stretch again."

If you only have time to stretch once, use the warm-up period to ease into your exercise and then stretch after your exercise, Dr. Laskowski says.

"Despite the benefits of physical activity that we know about and that are published in the news and magazines, the majority of Americans don't exercise regularly," Dr. Laskowski says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60 percent of all Americans don't get enough exercise. About 25 percent don't exercise at all.

We can all find excuses for not exercising, but they usually come down to perceived lack of time, ability, or even money. Furthermore, there's a popular misconception about the intensity and type of aerobic exercise needed to produce health benefits. Lack of motivation, though, is perhaps the biggest block. If you don't like your exercise routine, it's hard to stay on it. The best way to become physically active is to first find something you like to do, says Dr. Laskowski.

"If you don't like the activity and it doesn't fit into your lifestyle, you probably won't do it," he says. "There is no one ideal piece of exercise equipment."

"Exercise prescriptions are often too rigid, and people become discouraged if they aren't able to keep a specific schedule," says Dr. Laskowski. "The new concept from the American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC is to encourage people to accumulate physical activity throughout the day. The more that is accumulated, the better."

Use any opportunity to increase your physical activity: walk or bike to work -- or park a little farther away than usual and walk the rest of the way -- use the stairs instead of the elevator, take a brisk walk on your lunch break, put a little more energy into the house work. Make the activity fit your lifestyle. Dr. Laskowski suggests, for example, putting a treadmill or a stationary bicycle in front of the television or behind a stand for a magazine or book in order to combine your workout with something you normally do, but do sitting down.

"Three 10-minute bouts of activity can be as effective a cardiovascular workout as one 30-minute session," says Dr. Laskowski. "The goal is to average burning about 2,000 kilocalories a week from your accumulated activity. This is equivalent to about 30 minutes of activity most days of a week."

Even if you have an illness or condition that limits your ability to exercise you don't have to miss out on aerobics altogther. Talk to you doctor about what alternatives are right for you. If you have arthritis, for instance, pool exercises can give you the benefits of increased activity without placing stress on your joints. The flexibility of this type of exercise means almost anyone can enjoy the benefits of aerobics.

Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans
Aerobic exercise training reduces plasma endothelin-1 concentration in older women
Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans.
Colcombe SJ, Erickson KI, Raz N, Webb AG, Cohen NJ, McAuley E, Kramer AF.
Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2003 Feb;58(2):176-80

BACKGROUND: The human brain gradually loses tissue from the third decade of life onward, with concomitant declines in cognitive performance. Given the projected rapid growth in aged populations, and the staggering costs associated with geriatric care, identifying mechanisms that may reduce or reverse cerebral deterioration is rapidly emerging as an important public health goal. Previous research has demonstrated that aerobic fitness training improves cognitive function in older adults and can improve brain health in aging laboratory animals, suggesting that aerobic fitness may provide a mechanism to improve cerebral health in aging humans. We examined the relationship between aerobic fitness and in vivo brain tissue density in an older adult population, using voxel-based morphometric techniques. METHODS: We acquired high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans from 55 older adults. These images were segmented into gray and white matter maps, registered into stereotaxic space, and examined for systematic variation in tissue density as a function of age, aerobic fitness, and a number of other health markers. RESULTS: Consistent with previous studies of aging and brain volume, we found robust declines in tissue densities as a function of age in the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices. More importantly, we found that losses in these areas were substantially reduced as a function of cardiovascular fitness, even when we statistically controlled for other moderator variables. CONCLUSIONS: These findings extend the scope of beneficial effects of aerobic exercise beyond cardiovascular health, and they suggest a strong solid biological basis for the benefits of exercise on the brain health of older adults.

Aerobic exercise training reduces plasma endothelin-1 concentration in older women.
Maeda S, Tanabe T, Miyauchi T, Otsuki T, Sugawara J, Iemitsu M, Kuno S, Ajisaka R, Yamaguchi I, Matsuda M.
Center for Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance (TARA), University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan; Institute of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
J Appl Physiol 2003 Feb 28

Endothelial function deteriorates with aging. On the other hand, exercise training produces an improvement in the function of vascular endothelial cells. Endothelin-1 (ET-1), which is produced by vascular endothelial cells, has potent constrictor and proliferative activity in vascular smooth muscle cells, and therefore has been implicated in the regulation of vascular tonus and the progression of atherosclerosis. We previously reported that the plasma ET-1 concentration was significantly higher in middle-aged humans compared with young humans, and recently showed that the plasma ET-1 concentration was significantly decreased by aerobic exercise training in healthy young humans. We hypothesized that plasma ET-1 concentration increases with age even in healthy adults, and that lifestyle modification (i.e., exercise) can reduce plasma ET-1 concentration in previous sedentary older adults. We measured plasma ET-1 concentration in healthy young women (21 to 28 years old), healthy middle-aged women (31 to 47 years old), and healthy older women (61 to 69 years old). Plasma level of ET-1 significantly increased with aging (young women: 1.02 +/- 0.08, middle-aged women: 1.33 +/- 0.11, older women: 2.90 +/- 0.20 pg/mL). Thus, the plasma ET-1 concentration in healthy older women was markedly higher than that in healthy young women or healthy middle-aged women (by about 3-fold and 2-fold, respectively). In healthy older women, we also measured plasma ET-1 concentration after 3 months of aerobic exercise (cycling on a leg ergometer at 80% ventilatory threshold for 30 min, 5 days/week). Regular exercise significantly decreased plasma ET-1 concentration in the healthy older subjects (2.22 +/- 0.16 pg/mL, p<0.01) and also significantly reduced their blood pressure. The present study suggests that regular aerobic-endurance exercise reduces plasma ET-1 concentration in older humans, which may produce beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system (i.e., prevention of progression of hypertension and/or atherosclerosis by endogenous ET-1).

on the Adriatic Coast
The Anti-Aging Fasting Program consists of a 7-28 days program (including 3 - 14 fasting days). 7-28-day low-calorie diet program is also available .
More information
    The anti-aging story (summary)
Introduction. Statistical review. Your personal aging curve
  Aging and Anti-aging. Why do we age?
    2.1  Aging forces (forces that cause aging
Internal (free radicals, glycosylation, chelation etc.) 
External (Unhealthy diet, lifestyle, wrong habits, environmental pollution, stress, poverty-change "poverty zones", or take it easy. etc.) 
    2.2 Anti-aging forces
Internal (apoptosis, boosting your immune system, DNA repair, longevity genes) 
External (wellness, changing your environment; achieving comfortable social atmosphere in your life, regular intake of anti-aging drugs, use of replacement organs, high-tech medicine, exercise)
    2.3 Aging versus anti-aging: how to tip the balance in your favour!
    3.1 Caloric restriction and fasting extend lifespan and decrease all-cause mortality (Evidence)
      Human studies
Monkey studies
Mouse and rat studies
Other animal studies
    3.2 Fasting and caloric restriction prevent and cure diseases (Evidence)
Hypertension and Stroke
Skin disorders
Mental disorders
Neurogical disorders
Asthmatic bronchitis, Bronchial asthma
Bones (osteoporosis) and fasting
Arteriosclerosis and Heart Disease
Cancer and caloric restriction
Cancer and fasting - a matter of controversy
Eye diseases
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Sleeping disorders
Rheumatoid arthritis
Gastrointestinal diseases
    3.3 Fasting and caloric restriction produce various
      biological effects. Effects on:
        Energy metabolism
Lipids metabolism
Protein metabolism and protein quality
Neuroendocrine and hormonal system
Immune system
Physiological functions
Reproductive function
Cognitive and behavioral functions
Biomarkers of aging
    3.4 Mechanisms: how does calorie restriction retard aging and boost health?
        Diminishing of aging forces
  Lowering of the rate of gene damage
  Reduction of free-radical production
  Reduction of metabolic rate (i.e. rate of aging)
  Lowering of body temperature
  Lowering of protein glycation
Increase of anti-aging forces
  Enhancement of gene reparation
  Enhancement of free radical neutralisation
  Enhancement of protein turnover (protein regeneration)
  Enhancement of immune response
  Activation of mono-oxygenase systems
  Enhance elimination of damaged cells
  Optimisation of neuroendocrine functions
    3.5 Practical implementation: your anti-aging dieting
        Fasting period.
Re-feeding period.
Safety of fasting and low-calorie dieting. Precautions.
      3.6 What can help you make the transition to the low-calorie life style?
        Social, psychological and religious support - crucial factors for a successful transition.
Drugs to ease the transition to caloric restriction and to overcome food cravings (use of adaptogenic herbs)
Food composition
Finding the right physician
    3.7Fasting centers and fasting programs.
  Food to eat. Dishes and menus.
    What to eat on non-fasting days. Dishes and menus. Healthy nutrition. Relation between foodstuffs and diseases. Functional foods. Glycemic index. Diet plan: practical summary. "Dr. Atkins", "Hollywood" and other fad diets versus medical science

Bread, cereals, pasta, fiber
Glycemic index
Meat and poultry
Sugar and sweet
Fats and oils
Dairy and eggs
Nuts and seeds
Food composition

  Anti-aging drugs and supplements
    5.1 Drugs that are highly recommended
      (for inclusion in your supplementation anti-aging program)
        Vitamin E
Vitamin C
Co-enzyme Q10
Lipoic acid
Folic acid
Flavonoids, carotenes
Vitamin B
Vinpocetine (Cavinton)
Deprenyl (Eldepryl)
    5.2 Drugs with controversial or unproven anti-aging effect, or awaiting other evaluation (side-effects)
        Phyto-medicines, Herbs
      5.3 Drugs for treatment and prevention of specific diseases of aging. High-tech modern pharmacology.
        Alzheimer's disease and Dementia
Immune decline
Infections, bacterial
Infections, fungal
Memory loss
Muscle weakness
Parkinson's disease
Prostate hyperplasia
Sexual disorders
Stroke risk
Weight gaining
    5.4 The place of anti-aging drugs in the whole
      program - a realistic evaluation
    6.1 Early diagnosis of disease - key factor to successful treatment.
      Alzheimer's disease and Dementia
Cataracts and Glaucoma
Genetic disorders
Heart attacks
Immune decline
Infectious diseases
Memory loss
Muscle weakness
Parkinson's disease
Prostate hyperplasia
Stroke risk
Weight gaining
    6.2 Biomarkers of aging and specific diseases
    6.3 Stem cell therapy and therapeutic cloning
    6.4 Gene manipulation
    6.5 Prosthetic body-parts, artificial organs
Bones, limbs, joints etc.
Heart & heart devices
    6.6 Obesity reduction by ultrasonic treatment
  Physical activity and aging. Experimental and clinical data.
        Aerobic exercises
Weight-lifting - body-building
Professional sport: negative aspects
  Conclusion: the whole anti-aging program
    9.1 Modifying your personal aging curve
      Average life span increment. Expert evaluation.
Periodic fasting and caloric restriction can add 40 - 50 years to your lifespan
Regular intake of anti-aging drugs can add 20-30 years to your lifespan
Good nutrition (well balanced, healthy food, individually tailord diet) can add 15-25 years to your lifespan
High-tech bio-medicine service can add 15-25 years to your lifespan
Quality of life (prosperity, relaxation, regular vocations) can add 15-25 years to your lifespan
Regular exercise and moderate physical activity can add 10-20 years to your lifespan
These approaches taken together can add 60-80 years to your lifespan, if you start young (say at age 20). But even if you only start later (say at 45-50), you can still gain 30-40 years

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    9.2 The whole anti-aging life style - brief summary 
    References eXTReMe Tracker
        The whole anti-aging program: overview

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