Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forty Years Of Aerobics

More Than 40 Years Ago, Dr. Kenneth Cooper's Book Touted A New Type Of Exercise

“Today's gym goers can be found singing on their stationary bikes during Cycle Karaoke, shaking their butts at Yoga Booty Ballet, sweating through a high-energy yoga flow class and learning the dance moves to "Legally Blonde." They're moving in different ways with different rhythms, but they're all trying to get the heart rate up in an interesting, engaging way. In short, they're doing aerobics. More than 40 years after Dr. Kenneth Cooper released the book ‘Aerobics,’ the form of exercise hasn't died. It's just morphed with the times, giving itself new names and shedding the leg warmers and the headbands. Cooper, then a young Air Force physician, invented the word ‘aerobics’ for his 1968 book of the same name -- tacking an S onto the medical adjective ‘aerobic’ as a way to describe the new kind of exercise he was touting. In the book, he defined aerobic exercises as those that ‘demand oxygen without producing an intolerable oxygen debt, so that they can be sustained for a long period of time.’ He didn't particularly like the word, and he didn't want it to be the title of his book. ‘The publisher thought we should call the book 'Aerobics.' I disagreed," he said recently from his office at the Cooper Institute in Texas where, at 77, he still sees patients, including former President George W. Bush. " 'People can't pronounce it, they can't spell it, they won't remember it,' " he recalled contending. "But look what has happened in the past 40 years.’ Americans now know -- whether or not they choose to use such knowledge -- that aerobic exercise, getting the heart working for sustained periods of time, is to their benefit. In the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week for most adults. Doctors routinely encourage their patients to exercise aerobically to keep their heart healthy. And classes of all forms and stripes try to push people -- if not to their limit -- at least enough to make them sweat for extended periods. Even those likely to give up their fitness goals after a jog or two buy heart-rate monitors to ensure they're wringing the most cardiovascular benefit possible from their workouts. The percentage of Americans working out aerobically increased steadily from 24% in 1968 (when Cooper's book came out) to 59% in 1984, according to Gallup Polls. (It has since shrunk: A 2006 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 31% of Americans exercise aerobically.)”,0,6263972.story

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