You may be wondering what the benefits of aerobic exercise actually are. Sure you hear everywhere that performing regular exercise is good for your health, but why is that? The answer is actually quite long because there is a wide array of advantages to be had from doing some kind of aerobic exercise on a daily basis. It helps keep your heart, brain, lungs, and your body healthy, plus a whole lot more too.
What Is Aerobic Exercise?
Simply put, aerobic exercise is also known as cardio exercise. This is because it works out your cardiovascular system, that being your heart and lungs. Cardio or aerobic exercise involves sustained activity that causes your heart and breathing rate to work at an increased rate for a prolonged period of time. Aerobic exercise also involves the pumping of oxygenated blood to the muscles that are working. This kind of exercise includes things like spinning, cycling, jogging, swimming, dancing, and other such activities.
Benefit #1: Mental Benefits
One of the things that you may not have known about aerobic exercise is that it can greatly affect your mental health. There is a large percentage of the population that suffers from things like anxiety, depression, and even low self-confidence. It was previously thought that all of these things could only be fixed with drugs or psychiatric help, but that does not seem to be the case.
Regular exercise can actually be quite an effective tool when it comes to curing anxiety or depression. Studies have shown that this has something to do with a phenomenon that we call the runner’s high.
The runner’s high is a feeling of elation and happiness that runners get after having exercised for a prolonged period of time. It is shown that aerobic exercise causes the brain to release chemicals called dopamine. Dopamine plus a few other brain chemicals are feel-happy chemicals.
When released by the brain they make you feel happy and satisfied. Therefore people who suffer from depression and anxiety can reduce their symptoms through some simple aerobic exercise. Of course, the fact that exercise helps to boost self-confidence has to do with the fact that you feel fitter and probably look better too.
Benefit #2: Controlling Your Weight
It is shown that aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways of controlling your weight. In fact, it may be the very best way to lose weight. Daily aerobic exercise at a slightly increased heart rate or energy exertion level, for a period of 30 to 60 minutes per day, will burn a significant amount of calories.
Combined with a good diet this can go a very long way in helping you lose weight, weight that can be the cause of various health issues. If you are overweight and are tired of looking the way you look and feeling the way you do, aerobic exercise is definitely a great option to go with.
Benefit #3: It Can Help Reduce High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is most often caused by a weak heart. A weak heart has to pump and work much harder to deliver the same amount of blood around your body when compared to a stronger heart. This puts a lot of undue strain on the walls of your arteries, thus causing high blood pressure. The less your heart has to work to pump blood, the lower your blood pressure will be.
Over time aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart. After all the heart is a muscle, therefore doing aerobic activities will train that muscle. Just like with any other muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes.
As we mentioned before, the stronger your heart is, generally speaking, the lower your blood pressure will be. It is shown that you need to engage in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week for at least 6 weeks before seeing results in terms of your blood pressure.
It should also be noted that the effects will only last as long as you do aerobic activities for. Of course, high blood pressure can cause severe heart problems such as heart attacks as you age, something which you can help avoid with a little bit of aerobic exercise.
Benefit #4: Reducing The Chance Of Disease
There are very many benefits of aerobic exercise when it comes to reducing the chance of developing several different health conditions. As mentioned before, heart attacks, strokes, and other heart problems can be caused by high blood pressure, but that’s not all.
Diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and problems with your joints can all be caused by being overweight. Therefore losing weight is a great way to deal with these problems from an early age. As you may know, aerobic exercise is one of the best things that you can do to lose weight.
Furthermore, it is shown that walking and running on a regular basis greatly reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
Even better is the fact that swimming and water aerobics can actually relieve the symptoms and pain caused by arthritis. The bottom line is that aerobic exercise helps you lose weight and being obese is the cause of many different diseases that can be fatal.
Benefit #5: Use Oxygen More Efficiently
Another thing that regular aerobic exercise can help you with is your oxygen use. Doing aerobic exercise on a daily basis will help your body increase its efficiency in terms of oxygen use, thus making your heart and lungs work less.
Being more oxygen efficient means that both your heart and lungs don’t have to work nearly as hard to take in oxygen, convert it, and deliver it to your body. Moreover, regular aerobic exercise will also help you achieve your healthy target heart rate during exercise.
Your healthy target heart rate during exercise is how hard your heart should be working during a workout routine without working too hard and possibly suffering damage. As your fitness level improves you can aim for a higher target heart rate during your exercise.
The higher your healthy target heart rate is, the better your body can use oxygen and function. If your target heart rate, especially when you are resting, is too low, that means that your body does not efficiently use oxygen. Furthermore, your muscles require oxygen to function. The more oxygen that gets delivered to them during a workout session, the longer and harder you will be able to go without getting tired.
Benefit #6: Increases Your Metabolism
The next reason as to why you should do aerobic workouts on a daily basis is because it will help to increase your metabolism or metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate determines how fast your body processes calories. These calories can come from sugar, fat, or protein. As you may know, calories, when they go unused, will cause you to gain weight in places that you rather wouldn’t.
Aerobic exercise not only burns calories, but it causes your body’s metabolic function to strengthen as well. The faster your body burns calories, the less weight you will gain, the more weight you will lose, and in the end, it will help you maintain a healthy weight level.
Benefit #7: Strengthens Your Immune System
Another thing that aerobic exercise will greatly help you with is in terms of your immune system. It is shown that regular aerobic exercise helps to reduce the risk of contracting viral illnesses like the flu, plus it helps to reduce bacterial infections as well. There are actually several different ways in which aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of infection.
One way that aerobic exercise helps to reduce infection is because it causes you to breathe at an elevated rate. Breathing fast leads to your lungs flushing out an increased amount of bacteria, viruses, and other things that can make you sick.
The next way that aerobic exercise can help reduce the chance of infection is because when you exercise your body temperature rises. Just like when your body creates a fever to kill bacteria, the increased temperature from exercising will also prevent bacteria and viruses from growing and developing.
Another way that your immune system benefits from regular aerobic exercise is because it causes your heart to pump more blood around your body. The white blood cells or antibodies in your blood that fight off disease and infection circulate around the body quicker when your heart rate is elevated. Therefore your antibodies can catch infections before they develop.
The final way in which regular aerobic exercise helps to increase your immune strength is by slowing down the release of hormones that cause stress. It is shown that stress lowers your body’s ability to fight infection, thus less stress means less sickness.
Benefit #8: Improve Your Cholesterol Levels
The next advantage to be gained from regular aerobic exercise is an improvement in your cholesterol levels. Of course, the human body contains 2 different types of cholesterol. One of these types is known as LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. The other type is known as HDL, which is the good kind of cholesterol.
Good cholesterol helps your heart function better and it helps to keep your arteries clean. On the other hand, bad cholesterol will clog up your arteries and can cause major conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Regular aerobic exercise is proven to be an effective way of managing cholesterol levels and thus increasing your overall health.
Benefit #9: Lower Risk Of Breast Cancer
A really great thing about aerobic exercise that you may not have known about is that it can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer usually have a high level of estrogen-sensitive tissue in the breast.
These estrogen-sensitive tissues make it easier for breast cancer cells to develop. It is shown that regular aerobic exercise can help reduce the amount of estrogen-sensitive cells that are present in the breast, thus reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. This is especially important for women who have a family history of breast cancer as they are already at a higher risk of developing it.
Benefit #10: Keep Your Bones Healthy
Keeping your bones healthy is a very important part of being fit. This is especially true for people who are getting up there in age and for people who already have bone and joint conditions such as osteoporosis.
Regular weight bearing aerobic exercises such as running help to strengthen your bones very well. This is because the more weight and impact you put on your bones, the more bone mass they will produce. The process is much the same as for muscles. The more you train them, the bigger they get.
As you perform weight bearing aerobic exercises, your bones will produce more mass and that causes your bones to become denser, thus also stronger. Increasing the strength of your bones is great if you want to combat degenerative bone disease.
Benefit #11: Lower Your Resting Heart Rate
Another great benefit to be had from performing regular aerobic exercise is that it helps to lower your resting heart rate. As you know, when you exercise, your heart is being trained, and thus it does not have to work as hard to pump blood around your body. This is not only true for when you are exercising, but also for when you are at rest.
Your heart should beat at a fairly low rate when you are at rest. The faster your heart beats, the harder it is working, and ultimately your heart will give out sooner as you age. A lower resting heart rate means being healthier in general and it also means getting to live for longer. On a side note, regular aerobic exercises also force your body to create more blood vessels, thus increasing your circulation of blood.
Benefit #12: Fighting Diabetes
Another thing that aerobic exercise is great for is to fight off the effects of diabetes. Regular exercise helps keep you mobile and helps your body process sugars better, thus reducing the need for insulin or other diabetes medication.
As you can see there are very many different benefits of aerobic exercise, and in fact, there are probably more than we have listed here. Regular aerobic exercise will keep all the parts of your body in prime condition and will allow you to live a long and healthy life.
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