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Shape Up: Aerobics Basics

We spoke with Donna Cyrus, AFFA and ACE certified group fitness instructor and senior vice president of programming for Crunch Fitness, to give us some good-to-know basics and tips for getting the most out of aerobic workouts.

Photo: StockByte

Why is aerobics so good for the body?

The biggest benefit of aerobic exercise is weight loss and a healthy, strong heart. Brides looking to shed pounds and slim down on their big day should engage in aerobic exercise several days a week. However, it's impossible to see muscle definition with excess fat on top of it. For brides who want to look toned and sculpted on their big day, the key is to combine aerobic exercise with weight training.

What constitutes an aerobic workout?

It can simply be walking or jogging on a treadmill, riding a bike, or taking a group fitness class like spin or step. That said, it's beneficial to challenge your body with an intense spin class, a high-energy step class, or a boxing class. Tip: It's important to vary your aerobic exercise to avoid reaching a plateau or getting bored with your workout. You'll be more motivated to continue your aerobic routine if you're having fun and seeing results.

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Aerobics = The term "aerobics" refers to continual cardiovascular movement that's fueled by oxygen. Put simply, it's a cardio workout that burns calories and gets the heart pumping. The recommended time for aerobic exercise is about 45 minutes.

How can I get fast results?

Vary your workouts -- this will keep you from losing interest, and the more you vary your routine, the better your results will be. It's also important to eat one hour prior to aerobic activity. You need fuel to last a full 45 minutes and get the most out of that time. Many brides want to see results fast and try to eat less and work out more. But if you don't have the energy to get through your workout, you won't see any progress. Finally, it's important to get a good night's sleep and to rest for at least one day a week for your body to repair itself.

Any tips for getting started with an aerobics routine?

First, always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness regimen. When beginning an aerobic exercise plan, it's important to start slowly. Start with 20 minutes of aerobic activity and gradually increase to 45-minute sessions over a two-week period. It can also be helpful to alternate with a walking program when just starting out. Many brides want to see results right away, but be careful not to overdo it because you'll be less likely to stick with it over a long period of time if you get burnt out.

-- Tia Albright

See More: Getting in Shape