is a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise
with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness (flexibility, muscular strength, and cardio-vascular fitness). It is usually performed to music and may be practiced in a group setting led by an instructor (fitness professional), although it can be done solo and without musical accompaniment. With the goal of preventing illness and promoting physical fitness, practitioners perform various routines comprising a number of different dance-like exercises. Formal aerobics
classes are divided into different levels of intensity and complexity. Aerobics
classes may allow participants to select their level of participation according to their fitness level. Many gyms offer a variety of aerobic
classes. Each class is designed for a certain level of experience and taught by a certified instructor with a specialty area related to their particular class.
Both the term and the specific exercise method were developed by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, M.D., an exercise physiologist, and Col. Pauline Potts, a physical therapist, both of the United States Air Force. Dr. Cooper, an avowed exercise enthusiast, was personally and professionally puzzled about why some people with excellent muscular strength were still prone to poor performance at tasks such as long-distance running, swimming, and bicycling. He began measuring systematic human performance using a bicycle ergometer, and began measuring sustained performance in terms of a person's ability to use oxygen. His groundbreaking book, Aerobics, was published in 1968, and included scientific exercise programs using running, walking, swimming and bicycling. The book came at a fortuitous historical moment, when increasing weakness and inactivity in the general population was causing a perceived need for increased exercise. It became a bestseller. Cooper's data provided the scientific baseline for almost all modern aerobics programs
, most of which are based on oxygen-consumption equivalency