Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature. It is a type of exercise that works the heart and lungs and causes them to work harder than at rest.
Aerobic dance movement tends to be repetitive and pounding. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise done for a minimum of 20 minutes, three times a week at 60% of the maximum heart rate. Doing less than this will minimize your health benefits. Exercising 4 or more times a week will increase your health benefits.
The word "aerobics" was coined by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, a physician at the San Antonio Air Force Hospital in Texas, to denote a system of exercise he developed to help prevent coronary artery disease. Cooper's book about the exercise system, Aerobics, was published in 1968. A year later, Jackie Sorenson developed aerobic dance. a series of dance routines to improve cardiovascular fitness.
During the next two decades, aerobic dance and exercise in various forms spread throughout the United States and into other countries. The number of aerobics participants in the United States. alone grew from an estimated 6 million in 1978 to 19 million in 1982 and 22 million in 1987.
In 1983, Howard and Karen Schwartz organized Sport Fitness International (SFI) to oversee a new competitive sport they had developed, known as sportaerobics. SFI conducted the first national aerobic championship in 1984. Howard Schwartz founded the International Competitive Aerobics Federation (ICAF) in 1989, and the first world championships were held at San Diego in March of 1990, with athletes from 15 countries competing.
The ICAF has become the Association of National Aerobic Championships Worldwide (ANAC), which has 38 member countries. The national governing body is now the United States Competitive Aerobics Federation (USCAF), also founded in 1989.
Sport aerobics originally featured competition in four categories: Individual male and female, mixed pairs, and trio, which can include any three athletes. In 2002, competition was added for groups of six athletes.
Theoretical benefits of dance aerobics include improved cardiovascular and respiratory functioning such as an increased ability of exercising muscles to consume oxygen, lowered resting and exercise heart rates, increased stamina, resistance to fatigue, more effective management of diabetes, reduced bone-mineral loss, decreased blood pressure, and increased efficiency of the heart. Dance aerobics also may help to reduce coronary artery disease (CAD) risk, increase quality of life, and increase strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.

Related Terms

Aerobic dance, high-impact, low-impact, sportaerobics, step aerobics, Tae-Bo®, water aerobics.