Aerobic Exercise

Before starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor. You might also consult a fitness expert who can give you the how-to pointers on avoiding muscle strain and injury for your chosen sport.

Running

Somewhat of the core form of aerobic exercise, running is an effective means of strengthening the cardiovascular system. It is also one of the most convenient, requiring no facilities (except for a clear path) and only a good pair of shoes to perform.

In order to maximize the utility of running, it is advised to follow some simple steps. Before running, be sure to stretch for several minutes. If a person possesses a moderate fitness level, it is possible to jog before stretching in order to loosen the muscles.

Once running, one must attempt to maintain balance and to reduce resistance with the ground. This may be achieved by keeping the back straight, the head up, the arms equidistant from the center of the chest, and by landing on the front of the foot . Although perhaps not overwhelmingly obvious, a lack of balance will hasten fatigue in a runner.

Running allows you to push your body to its capabilities of the moment. If you are a beginning runner, you might have a shorter stride and a shorter run. As your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient, you might find that you want a longer run at a faster pace to get the same effective workout.

Swimming

Swimming is a popular form of aerobic exercise. The overall workout on all muscle groups is often greater than in other forms of exercise. This means that, as an overall body exercise, swimming can be more effective than running or other sports that tend to focus on one type of motion. In swimming, virtually every major muscle group is utilized.

In swimming, there is also no continual contact with a hard surface. This eliminates impact-strain on the joints and soft tissues. Swimming is also a hybrid between aerobic and anaerobic activity. It is clearly aerobic, involving the steady consumption of oxygen. However, swimming is also anaerobic, since the water provides resistance and promotes muscular development.

Swimming is both an exercise and a therapy used by many injured and elderly athletes. Water aerobics, buoyancy therapy, weight belts, and kickboards allow athletes to more quickly recover from injuries, training insults and surgeries.

For example, waterpolo goalies often train with weight belts to strengthen their ability to lift out of the water later. Competition swimmers often train while wearing two or even three swim suits to increase the drag on their bodies, so that in competition, they feel lighter. And stroke victims often use buoyancy therapy to keep them afloat while they move their limbs.

Swimming is one of the few exercises that allows a complete workout without significant danger of injury to the joints. It is an important form of exercise that can act as a secondary form of training for almost any type of athlete.

Soccer & Basketball

Soccer and basketball are, in their most basic form, running. They combine running with hand-eye or foot-eye coordination skills. Both sports add a slight anaerobic benefit to the aerobic benefits of running, since there is some minor muscular resistance in each sport, such as shooting or kicking the ball.

Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a physically and mentally challenging sport that teaches children physical strength, speed, agility, ability to perform under pressure, the values of teamwork, and competitive prowess. Children typically become involved in the sport at ages 5-6 and progress through various “levels” of competition as they mature and add to their skill sets. Competitors in Levels 1-10 typically compete on a national scale, and more skilled athletes are chosen as “Elite” gymnasts and represent their respective countries in international meets, including the Olympics. The current minimum age for participation in Olympic events is 16 years. In addition to national and international competition, women’s gymnastics at the university level is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States today.

Women’s gymnastics is composed of competition in four distinct apparatus:

Vault

The vaulting horse, as it is sometimes called, is four feet high, five feet long and eleven inches wide. Athletes begin the vault routine with a strong, accelerated run down a runway that is three feet wide and eighty two feet long. The gymnast then tumbles from a springboard and hits the vault with both hands and does a variety of twists and somersaults while at the same time striving to keep her legs together during her flight, hopefully resulting in a “stuck” landing with no extra steps. This is the only event that requires the gymnast to perform two separate efforts.

Uneven Bars

The uneven parallel bars are two bars eight and five feet off the ground and three feet apart from each other. This event requires tremendous upper body strength, intense concentration, coordination, and precision timing. The gymnast usually starts from the low bar and progresses to the high bar with big swings that involve grip changes, releases and regrasps, and changes of direction. The routine must flow continuously from one movement to the other without pauses. Each routine is required to have two release elements.

Balance Beam

The balance beam is fifteen feet long, four feet from the ground, and only 4 inches wide. The routine must last between 70 and 90 seconds and cover the entire length of the beam. Gymnasts are required to have two acrobatic flight elements, turn of one leg at least 360 degrees, a leap with great distance and height, and an element close to the beam. Beam routines also can include tumbling and various creative dance elements. The overall goal is for the gymnast to give the judges the impression that she is performing the routine on a floor, not a strip that is merely 4 inches wide.

Floor Exercise

The floor exercise is the only event that requires the gymnast to choreograph her movements to the accompaniment of music. It is performed on a padded carpet measuring forty feet by forty feet. Gymnasts are required to execute four tumbling passes from corner to corner and covering all other parts of the floor. The routine lasts between 70 and 90 seconds.

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