Why Aerobic Exercise Is Crucial for Optimal Health
Aerobic exercise is often misunderstood as merely a tool for weight loss, or worse, something only athletes need to do for sports performance.
Aerobic exercise, also called cardio, has numerous health benefits. Aerobic exercise forces your heart and lungs to work harder, which strengthens your cardiorespiratory system and burns calories. Yet aerobic exercise does more. It may even save your life.
The Top 5 Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
1. Weight Management
Aerobic exercise is the best type for weight management. Your body burns more calories during aerobic exercise than strength training or anaerobic exercise. When you burn more calories than you eat, you shed fat and lose weight. Regular exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, especially as you age and your metabolism slows.
Any physical activity that causes your heart rate and breathing to noticeably elevate is aerobic exercise. However, a minor increase from light intensity exercise is not going to burn significant calories. Activities such as jogging, walking briskly, swimming laps, playing sports, and working hard on a cardio machine are effective for weight management.
2. Cardiorespiratory Health
Aerobic exercise improves the health of your cardiorespiratory system, which is primarily your heart and lungs. During exercise, your heart pumps more blood throughout the body to deliver oxygen to fatigued muscles. This means your lungs must take in and absorb more oxygen. Overtime, your lung capacity increases as does their ability to use oxygen. Your heart becomes stronger and needs to work less hard in general. Your muscles also become better able to use oxygen.
Improved heart and lung function lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Your stamina increases. You are even less likely to suffer a heart attack. Doctors advise that patients who have had heart attacks begin aerobic exercise to prevent future attacks.
3. Mood Enhancement
Exercise makes you feel better. It boosts your mood, increases your energy level, helps you sleep, and combats stress, anxiety and depression. Your body and mind feel less tense after aerobic exercise. Although you may feel tired after a good workout, you are less like to experience fatigue overall. Your self-esteem improves too, whether because you have lost weight or because you can walk up a flight of stairs without being winded.
4. Immune System Boost
Engaging in aerobic exercise makes your immune system stronger. This helps your body fight off minor viral infections, including flues and colds.
5. Longer Life
The last of the top five benefits of aerobic exercise is a cumulative effect of the previous four. Studies show that regular cardio exercise helps people live longer. When you are less likely to get ill, feel less stress, have a strong heart and lungs, and feel good in general, it makes sense that your expected lifespan would increase. Aerobic exercise also prevents obesity, which is a major risk factor for many serious health conditions, such as heart diseases, stroke, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
These are only five aerobic exercise benefits, as the benefits go far beyond these five. You will find many additional benefits with routine aerobic exercise. To keep your body and mind in tip top shape and see tangible results from your cardio routine, aim for around 20 to 60 minutes of cardio on most days of the week.