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Girl Scout aerobics

This fitness segment is to help you learn more about aerobic fitness and also give you an eight week walk/jog plan to get you started on your own program.

What is aerobic fitness?

The word aerobic means "with oxygen." Oxygen is the fuel your muscles use to perform ongoing exercise (like jogging). When you do aerobic exercise you breathe in oxygen.

The harder you exercise the more oxygen your muscles need and the faster you must breathe.

What are the benefits of getting into better aerobic shape?

Your heart is a muscle. When you do aerobic exercise your heart gets stronger. When your heart gets stronger it pumps more blood and oxygen each time it beats. When you get in better aerobic shape your heart and lungs can send more oxygen to your muscles.

This will give you more endurance. You will have more energy. Better aerobic fitness will let you exercise longer without getting tired. You will run up a flight of stairs and not even get winded. You will be able to play games with your friends and not breathe as hard as you did before.

Better aerobic fitness will allow you to go for long walks, run a mile faster, play basketball, soccer, or any sport, and not get as tired.

When you do aerobic exercise you also burn more calories. This is the best exercise to help you lose weight if that becomes one of your goals.

When does an exercise become aerobic?

There are four rules that must take place for an activity to be an aerobic exercise.

Rule # 1

Aerobic exercise must use the bigger muscles of the lower body.

Typing on a computer uses smaller muscles and would not count as an aerobic exercise. Walking and jogging use the bigger muscles of the lower body and are examples of aerobic exercise.

Rule # 2

Aerobic exercise must have a steady rhythm.

Walking slow for ten seconds and then fast for ten seconds is not a steady rhythm. Stop and go activities like tennis, soccer, and basketball, are not aerobic exercise.

Do not speed up and slow down while you walk or jog. You must continue the exercise at a comfortable and steady pace.* *

Rule # 3

Aerobic exercise must continue nonstop for a minimum of twelve minutes.

You cannot stop and rest once you start your aerobic workout. Jogging for five minutes and stopping to rest before jogging again is not aerobic exercise. Twelve minutes is the minimum. Adding more time will improve the benefits. In the workout plan we have for you your workouts will last fifteen minutes.

Rule # 4

How hard should I exercise?

There are three aerobic terms you should know.

  1. Resting heart rate
  1. Maximum heart rate
  1. Training heart rate

When you are at complete rest (sleeping, lying perfectly still) your heart continues to beat (to keep you alive). This is called your resting heart rate.

You can take your resting heart rate by lying still for several minutes and then gently place your index finger and your middle finger right next to your Adams apple (at the front of your neck). You will feel the pulse each time your heart beats.

Have a friend time you for fifteen seconds while you count each heart beat. Multiply this number by four to get the number of times your heart beats in one minute. This is your resting heart rate.

The faster you walk or jog the faster your heart will beat. When you exercise too hard your heart will beat really fast and it will no longer be aerobic exercise.

Your maximum heart rateis the fastest your heart can beat in one minute. Imagine running as fast as you possibly can until you can no longer continue running and you collapse (please do not try this). At this point your heart is beating as fast as it can (maximum heart rate). You would be gasping for air and feeling very uncomfortable. This is not aerobic exercise.

Your training heart rate is the number of beats per minute your heart needs to beat to be in the aerobic training zone while you work out.

If your heart beat is too low the exercise is not hard enough to improve your level of fitness. If your heart beat is too high it is no longer aerobic exercise and you will not be able to continue the exercise nonstop for at least twelve minutes.

How do you know when you are exercising hard enough to get the best aerobic workout?

There are formulas you can use to predict how fast your heart should beat while you do your workout. When you become really serious about aerobic fitness you can look into using these formulas to find the ideal heart rate for you.

For now however, we are going to use the "talk test" as your guide to how hard you should exercise.

What is the talk test? While you are walking or jogging, you should be able to talk with your workout partner. It is okay to breathe hard but not so hard that you are gasping for air. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot say a few words back and forth to your workout partner, you are probably working too hard.

However, if you can sing a song from beginning to end or carry on a conversation with someone on your cell phone while you are exercising, you are probably not working hard enough.

As you become more fit you must walk, jog, or run, a little faster if your goal is to become more fit.

How often should you do aerobic exercise?

To get you started we are giving you an eight week program with three weekly workouts. (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). You can change the days to best meet your schedule.

Cool down.

Once you finish with your aerobic workout you should cool down for about three minutes. Walk slowly during this cool down period. When you feel that your heart rate has returned to normal you can perform a few basic stretches.

How do I get started?

We have organized an eight week walk-jog program for you. We have included three weekly fifteen minute workouts. During the first workout you will walk nonstop for fifteen minutes.

Eventually you will walk some and jog some to complete your workout. Each week you will walk less and jog more. Our goal for you during your eighth week is to jog nonstop for the entire fifteen minute workout.

Print the two workout calendars we have made for you (January | February). We suggest that you keep a record of your resting heart rate and your bodyweight. On Sunday of each week you can take your resting heart rate before you get out of bed and then record it on your calendar.

We suggest you find a friend who is interested in becoming more fit and has a similar schedule to yours. On those days when you feel like maybe skipping a workout your buddy can help motivate you.

Remember to cool down after each workout by walking slowly for three minutes and then perform a few of your favorite stretches.

Your goal is to work hard but not too hard. Walk briskly at a comfortable pace and when it is time to jog remember the talk test.

Have fun.

Learn to enjoy your aerobic workouts. We want you to make exercise a fun part of your life for the rest of your life.

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