In my last article entitled "Three great benefits of sport that you may not know"we saw in a general way the benefits of physical exercise, how it helps us to preserve our youth, health and enhance our creativity. I also explained how this helps the pianist in particular.

In this post we will continue to go further into this field to find out, according to the available information, the benefits of regular practice of aerobic exercise for people in general and for the pianist in particular.

I hope that the lessons I have learnt from mistakes I've made and the information I provide will be of use.


When we decide to do physical exercise what three general types of activity can we do?

Depending on the effects and benefits they bring to our body, the exercises can be grouped in three: aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility.

What exactly does the word ‘aerobic ’ mean?

Aerobic means "with oxygen" and refers to our body needing oxygen to burn glycogen (our sugar) and) fatty acids (our fat) to generate energy and get it to our muscles so that they can contract.

When does our body use sugar or fat while performing an aerobic workout?

During the first 20 minutes the body uses glycogen (sugar) stored in our muscles and liver to produce such energy. From this moment on our body gradually begins to burn fatty acids (our fat) to produce more energy necessary to continue contracting muscles.

45 minutes after starting the exercise, we reach a point where our body mainly uses fat as an energy source . It does for half an hour more, and from that time ( 75 minutes) it gradually begins to use our own muscle for the same purpose. For this reason, we must be aware that after 75 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise, we begin to undo our own muscles!!!


How can we adapt our efforts so the exercise or sport we do is aerobic?

Easy. When we are born, our heart can beat at a maximum rate of 220 beats per minute in men and 226 in women. Each year, our hearts drop a beat from this maximum. So if we subtract our age from 220 or 226 what are we left with? : The maximum number of beats that our hearts can give today. Well. An aerobic exercise is that which moves between 55% and 75% of our maximum heart rate.

This means that the intensity of our exercise should be low or average. But please note !! if we go above this 75% threshold we will lose the precious benefits shown below.

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What happens when we exceed the intensity level of 75%?

The balance between oxygen consumption and the contribution we supply through breathing, is broken, i.e. to maintain the demand for muscle contraction, the body requires more oxygen than we are supplying. As we do not provide what it needs, uses an extra gas station that brings it more "fuel"; but this is another system: anaerobic. In conclusion, we do not exceed this level of intensity of 75% of our maximum heart rate mainly as we will lose the benefits of aerobic exercise.

What else must we keep in mind so that our training is aerobic?

We must maintain our training session for at least 25 minutes non-stop, i.e., without letting our beats come down. If we rest in the middle of the session, we are not reaping the benefit!!!


Do we keep receiving the benefits of training after exercise?

Yes. We maintain her metabolic activity for several hours, i.e. that our beats and metabolic reactions are still active during this time. This in itself is very useful, among other things, for the purification of toxins from our body through many detoxification organs such as the liver, kidneys ...

To this point, how should we carry out a type of aerobic training session?

Starting with a 10 minute warm up doing any low intensity activity (we can chat to friends as we do so), which allows us to raise our body temperature of. This prevents injury.

We will then perform 25 minutes or more of aerobic exercise.

Finally we will do flexibility exercises in order to stretch our muscles. This will also help prevent injuries and aid comfort of movement in our daily lives.


What are examples of aerobic exercise we can take as a reference to get fully involved?

Running, cycling, walking, hiking, swimming, jogging, skiing, skating, rowing, dancing, climbing stairs, skipping, etc. These are all examples of aerobic exercise provided they meet the requirements mentioned.

Before showing the most important benefits for the pianist, below are some questions and answers to highlight the general benefits for everyone.

Is this system useful in reducing body fat?

Yes. It is an effective system to lose weight as we have seen, because among other energy sources the body uses our fat,.


What happens to our sense of fullness while breathing?

Since our body demands a lot of oxygen during the training period, our lung capacity increases, i.e. we inhale more air than usual. The result is a pleasant feeling of fullness when we breathe in.

Do our heart and vascular systems benefit?

They benefit greatly. Everyone wants to have a strong heart ,and some arteries and veins that dilate easily when there is extra blood is required. A strong heart and a flexible vascular system prevents many problems. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart , increasing the thickness of its walls, increases the size of the atria, ventricles and gives elasticity to the vascular system. Thus, the heart receives more blood and expels more with each beat. In addition we allow our heart to beat slower, with less effort.

This type of exercise also increases the number of capillaries and alveoli, our red blood cells. It also brings down levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the good (HDL)

In short, everything is about carrying more oxygen and nutrients to every corner of our body !!!


What about our bones ?

This type of exercise increases the absorption of calcium, strengthening our bone structure and so reducing the risk of fractures.

And for the pianist? where can we find direct benefits for our activity?


With long hours of piano technique we often have to fight against tiredness and fatigue Does aerobic exercise help to get rid of these unpleasant symptoms?

Yes. While carrying out this type of exercise we bring down blood levels of glycogen (sugar) so we prevent the body using high amounts of insulin. It is precisely this hormone, insulin, which causes these unpleasant symptoms: tiredness, fatigue and fainting.

So many hours sitting up straight and using our fingers with arpeggios, chords and others means we end up with fatigue , can we find an way to delay or even eliminate this feeling?

Of course we can!!! Aerobic exercise usually involves large muscle groups such as legs, buttocks and lower back. Keeping our waist and lower back strong helps us extend our piano practice sessions. With strong trunk muscles, we maintain an excellent postural hygiene and get rid of discomfort.


We are learning a work or composing. Stress brings suffering and distress . Can we reduce or eliminate it and so strengthen our will?

Of course. This type of exercise lowers levels of adrenaline, stress hormone, and raises levels of endorphins (proteins that generate pain inhibition and nice feelings. This brings down our emotional stress and improves mood which translates into a sense of emotional and physical well -being.

What other benefit can we point to?

We will notice that our effort has greatly improved. . One of the key benefits of aerobic training is to improve endurance. What is endurance? It is the ability to carry out long-term effort, to bear the fatigue caused by this effort and eventually recover quickly. So with this training system are making the organism adapt to combat fatigue from long hours at the piano, besides making this appear as late as possible so we recover as quickly as possible.


Recently I was telling a friend how strange it was that in my early piano practice I got tired very quickly. I had to make many little breaks and I had discomfort in my back and arms, all with piano work days much shorter than today !!!. Today the opposite happens. Why? Because of incorporating this type of aerobic exercise into my lifestyle. .

Anyway, I hope that this approach to the basics of aerobic training and the benefits for the pianist have been helpful to you.

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