Your body has many fascinating systems in place that allow our body to perform amazing tasks. Aerobic exercise uses these systems in a fascinating way. When you perform aerobic exercise, your body uses your aerobic system to produce energy to keep moving forward.

While you huff and puff along, your body absorbs the oxygen into the bloodstream and immediately begins to transport it to the muscles. In the muscles, your mitochondria begins the complicated process of transforming that oxygen into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is the reason you do anything, from reading this article to running a marathon.

We have written more on this topic in our article Aerobic vs. Anaerobic workouts. We mentioned that while it is important to vary between both types, it’s more important just to make sure that you’re getting regular exercise.

I love running, it has become one of my favorite forms of exerice. I have become progressively much more of an endurance runner than I used to be. Years ago, I got into running mainly because of the health and weight-loss purposes. Weight lifting was always my thing, but I knew that if I wanted to be all-around healthy I would have to work some cardio in.

Now, I genuinely love running. I’ll head to the trails and run for hours, completing up to 10 miles or more. This is far beyond what I could have imagined accomplishing, and I plan on training more to continue going further.

Running is great, it can be enjoyable and a perfect way to stay in shape. However, there are other forms of aerobic exercise that are also beneficial.

What Is Aerobic Exercise?

The main factor of what makes aerobic exercise “aerobic” is the intensity at which it is performed. “Aerobic” simply means that the exercise is performed in the presence of oxygen. When you are jogging, your body is taking up the oxygen and converting it to ATP through the aerobic energy system.

On the other hand, when you are doing more intense exercise, your body requires an energy output that is needed more quickly or in higher amounts than your body is able to produce through this system, known as “anaerobic.”

We plan on going deeper into this in the future because it is truly fascinating.

But for now, let’s get into the workouts!

Jogging is a Great form of Aerobic Exercise

Jogging/Running

I generally don’t discriminate much of a difference between jogging and running. To me, it’s the arbitrary difference of speed. For me, completing a mile at above 9 minutes could be considered running, while under 9 minutes would be running.

Why do I label it this way for myself?

Because of something called Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This is different for everybody, which is why I call jogging vs. running arbitrary. I’m a decently experienced runner, so running a 8 minute mile feels much easier than it would be for a new runner.

Jogging/running is great aerobic exercise. As you run, your body takes in oxygen and begins to break down nutrients like carbs and fats to produce energy. Your metabolism spikes in order to keep up with the workload.

The reason that this exercise is aerobic is due the fact your body is able to convert the oxygen and other fuels, mainly glucose, into ATP. Your body converts carbs into glucose, and each glucose molecule into ATP for energy.

This is unlike sprinting, where your body is not able to complete this process at a fast enough rate, causing your body to produce energy anaerobically.

It is also worth mentioning that longer distance running also changes what your body is breaking down. Running is based heavily on carbohydrates, but the ratio skews towards fats during longer running sessions.

Fats can be broken down for far more ATP molecules than carbs can be, but the process takes much more time to complete.

It is also important to stay injury-free. Many new runners become excited by ideas of running long distances and end up over-working tendons.

Keep in mind a few key rules when it comes to running and jogging. 

Keys for Avoiding Injury While Running/Jogging

  1. Keep the 10% rule in mind. This is a debated topic, but it’s better to be on the safe side. This rule just means never increase your weekly miles ran by more than 10%. This is a good rule to live by, because your body needs time to adapt. 
  2. Your muscles and stamina develope far faster than your bones, connective tissue, and fascia. As a new runner, your can add time and distance to your runs pretty quickly. Your muscles will quickly adapt and become stronger, and your body will adapt to the larger energy expenditure. Your bones, tendons, connective tissue, and fascia will all need more time to adapt. For example, when we run or lift weights, we know our muscles break down and rebuild stronger in a matter of days. A very similar process happens to our bones, but it requires months rather than days. So, when we increase the work load of our runs to quickly, we don’t allow our bones time to adapt and become stronger. This will lead to injuries quickly, so make sure to pace yourself (no running puns intended).
  3. Always listen to your body! When exercising, soreness is usual, but you have to realize when it becomes excessive. Your body feels like it’s in pain to warn you of serious issues. If you begin to feel serious pain in your tendons or muscles while running, stop and walk! It can prevent a more serious injury from occurring, and injuring yourself will negate all of your progress and set yourself back on your running journey.
Swimming can be used to increase endurance, and is a form of aerobic exercise!

Swimming 

Swimming is another great form of aerobic exercise.

It is a great exercise because it is so versatile!

You can swim laps and build great cardio endurance and strength. You could do water jogging, which is exactly how it sounds, you just jog in the water.

The main benefit of swimming for many is that it is completely low impact. While you’re in water, you weigh a fraction of your normal weight. This creates a safe environment for you to exercise while avoiding injuries to your tendons, joints, and bones.

Injured runners and other athletes usually turn to swimming for this reason. 

Biking

As an avid runner, I find biking to be a great exercise on the days where I do not run. Running is great, but like I mentioned, you should always listen to your body and allow it time to adapt to the workload that you are asking of it.

Biking is another alternative, because it works many of the same muscles while allowing others to rest. For example, two common injuries that hinder running progression is the achilles tendon and the lateral collateral ligament. After putting more stress on these ares of the body than you’re used to, you can injury them. This is the tendon directly above your heal, and the one that is on the outside of your knee.

Biking allows you to work your leg muscles without putting such force on your tendons. When you jog, your body weight is being pushed down onto your legs over and over again. Until you are able to withstand that force, cross-training is a great way to stay active while not over-working the same tendons.

Biking is great for improving your running because it works your quads, hamstrings, and calves, which are some of the primary muscles used while running. 

Calisthenics

Calisthenics are basically just body-weight exercises. No weights, no equipment, just you and your body.

These are great because of the obvious cost of workout equipment. You don’t need any fancy items, if you want to add intensity, a jump rope or light weights would be great, but are not necessary.

Calisthenics also have another great perk…

It saves tons of time!

You can do an intense session of calisthenics in under 20 minutes! This is great for busy schedules because it can fit into an early morning routine. There are tons of great body-weight workouts you could do.

Some examples would be:

  • Pullups
  • Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Knee Jumps
  • Planks
  • Side Planks (Obliques)
  • Side Crunches
  • Supermans
  • Static Back Holds
  • High Knees
  • Squats
  • Plank Extensions
  • Wide Pushups
  • Diamond Pushups

There are many others, but grab a handful of them and create a routine.

Let’s say that you have 10 minutes in the morning. Here’s an easy routine that you could make!

  • Situps x 30 seconds
  • Side crunches x 30 seconds
  • High Knees x 30 seconds
  • Squats x 30 seconds
  • Knee Jumps x 30 seconds
  • Pushups x 30 seconds
  • Burpees x 30 seconds
  • Lunges x 30 seconds
  • Side Lunges x 30 seconds
  • Rest x 30 seconds

  • Jump Squats x 30 seconds
  • Wide Squats x 30 seconds
  • Rotating Planks x 30 seconds
  • Backward Stepping lunges x 30 seconds
  • Reverse crunches x 30 seconds
  • Reaching Plants x 30 seconds
  • Shoulder taps x 30 seconds
  • Butt Kicks x 30 seconds
  • Side Plank x 30 seconds
  • Plank x failure

This routine takes 10 minutes to complete. 10 minutes is a tiny fraction of your day, so if you aren’t able to schedule that, you should take time to look over your schedule again.

Conclusion

These are all great methods at improving aerobic performance.

For example, I love long-distance running. Obviously, running on a regular basis will improve my ability to run long distances. However, cross training provides a wider array of benefits for my bodies ability to handle stresses and create energy more efficiently.

As I bike, my heart continues to get stronger and more efficient at delivering oxygenated blood to my muscles.

As I practice intense calisthenics, my body becomes more efficient at removing lactic acid and gaining muscle mass.

I love running, but I have to remind myself that running too much could cause injury, and cross training opens my body up to more benefits than running alone.

There are many other options to choose from!

It’s also important to keep in mind that the only reason for doing any of this should just be to be a healthier person!

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