Aerobics are classified into two categories: high impact and low impact. High impact aerobics refers to continuous, higher-energy activities that usually take both of the exerciser's feet off the floor at the same time. This type of aerobics involves energetic use of large muscle groups over a period of time for the purpose of cardiovascular exercise, typically with the goal of weight loss.
While high impact aerobics is often thought of as classes set to music that are led by an instructor, the term actually refers to many forms of coordinated activity. Examples of this type of exercise include biking, running, and dance routines to music. Low impact aerobics are less intense forms of activity that generally leave one foot on the ground, such as raking leaves, walking, or cleaning the house.
Exercisers who are practicing aerobics for the purpose of improving cardiovascular fitness or losing weight should engage in high impact aerobics. A healthy lifestyle and nutritional diet typically will help maximize the benefits of aerobic exercise, as well. There are many approaches one can take to achieve an effective high impact aerobic workout, including those that are self-guided. While running and biking are traditional forms of high impact exercise, even sequences with simple equipment, such as a jump rope, can be an effective workout based on intensity and duration.
In the United States, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports suggests that adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week in order to reduce the likelihood of heart complications and health diseases, such as diabetes. Children need even more activity — closer to 60 minutes per day. While benefits can be obtained through both moderate low impact exercise and high impact activities, greater benefits can be gained through longer, more intense activities like high impact aerobics.
To reap the maximum effectiveness of high impact aerobics, one should generally be able to engage in the duration of the activity for at least 30 minutes in order to burn fat and increase cardiovascular health. As the activity gets easier over time, exercisers should adjust the duration and intensity for continued challenge. The calories burned in a high impact aerobic workout can vary greatly depending on the exerciser; his or her weight also dictates calorie expenditure. For this reason, one should consult a calorie-burning chart or fitness professional to understand personal calorie expenditure by stature. Generally, the longer and more intense the aerobic activity is, the more calories a person will burn.