Regular Aerobic Exercise Gives an Individual Better Health
Category: Healthy Living
Posted on June 5, 2021
Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.
Heart health, stamina, joy--who knew that dancing at your daughter's wedding could mean so much?
Regular aerobic exercise gives an individual a plethora of benefits and is one of the top drivers of physical fitness in adults. It can be an easy, enjoyable way to ensure a long and fulfilling life.
Are you interested in learning more about aerobic exercise and what it can mean for your health? Read through our guide to determine the best aerobic exercises for you and how you might benefit from some daily movement in your life.
Aerobic exercise is most commonly referred to as "cardio." It is cardiovascular conditioning that results in the increase of breathing intensity and heart rate. It is usually performed for a sustained amount of time and is most commonly associated with running, jumping, or anything that gets you moving around for an extended duration.
Unlike anaerobic exercises, which involve short, quick bursts of movement and muscle engagement through the use of glucose stores, aerobic exercises typically require respiratory and muscle endurance.
The word "aerobic" literally means "with oxygen." Unlike stretching and certain types of resistance training, aerobic exercise allows the lungs to take in more oxygen as one's breathing increases.
Just like with any exercise, it is important to practice consistency in order to notice strength or health improvements. Aerobic exercise is truly a lifestyle choice that can work wonders with regular practice.
Types of Aerobic Exercise
The best aerobic exercises are the ones you enjoy the most while considering your own individualized safety. With lots of choices between low-intensity and high-intensity aerobic exercises, you can be sure to find the type of heart-healthy movement that feels the best in your body.
Common Low-Intensity Aerobic Exercises
Low-intensity or low-impact aerobic exercises are easier on your joints than a high-intensity workout. These exercises tend to be performed in a gentle or fluid motion:
- Walking at a brisk pace (for heart benefits)
- Water aerobics
- Casual, social dancing or dance breaks
- Gardening or light housework
- Doubles tennis
- Cross country skiing
- Certain types of yoga
Low-intensity or low-impact aerobic exercises are best for when your energy levels are low, you are recovering from an injury, or you are at risk for additional wear and tear on your body. While the heart might not get pumping as intensely as a high-impact exercise, you will easily reap the benefits of these exercises if you are performing them regularly.
Common High-Intensity Aerobic Exercises
High-intensity aerobic exercises are typically more advanced movements. These movements often move both feet off the ground at the same time, causing a higher impact on one's joints.
- Running (at your own pace)
- Dancing or Zumba
- Intense yardwork or chores
- Singles tennis
- Jumping rope
- Fitness machines: Ski Machines, Stair Climbers, Steppers, Ellipticals
- HIIT (High-intensity interval training)
- Jumping jacks
- High-intensity weightlifting
- Mountain climbing or hiking (can wear a heavy backpack for additional benefits)
Remember-- you don't have to stick to high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. It is crucial to schedule some active rest days so your body can recover and avoid overuse injury.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
The benefits of aerobic exercise cannot be understated. Though the health and wellness possibilities are endless, these are some of our favorite benefits of this type of exercise.
1. Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease has been acknowledged as the number one cause of adult death in America. When considering the effects of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking-related deaths, this type of disease is responsible for 25% of all US deaths. Types of cardiovascular diseases include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack or myocardial infarction
- Heart muscle disease or cardiomyopathy
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Because this type of movement promotes a healthy body composition and blood pressure, the risk for heart attack dramatically decreases.
2. Body Composition
While there are a lot of reasons to incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine, the added bonus of weight loss and healthy body composition can be beneficial to many people with that focus.
Intense and focused aerobic exercise can help an individual reach a caloric deficit. In other words, burning more calories than you are consuming in order to sustain energy can help you to lose weight. This is because a caloric deficit requires the body to turn to its fat stores in order to generate energy. This extra fat is distributed around the body, though many people look to lose extra pounds in a way that is traditionally flattering to the physique.
It's important to remember that body composition isn't just about aesthetics. Reducing fat mass can be beneficial to heart health and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
3. Build Stamina
Do you wish you could keep up better on family hikes or when playing with your kids? This may be one of the reasons why you need aerobic exercise.
Consistent aerobic exercise increases your stamina by requiring your body to use more oxygen than it might typically need. By training your lungs, heart, and muscles to utilize the oxygen the systems require to function optimally, the body is able to sustain movement and maintain energy for much longer.
Increased stamina means more energy and potentially more enjoyment in the activities you participate in. It also has the potential to contribute to healthy blood pressure, regulated blood sugar, and lowered cholesterol.
4. Mental Health
Many studies have provided evidence of the strong link between physical health and mental health. When chronic physical illness interferes with the quality of life, it can take a serious toll on an individual by triggering depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Some doctors have even suggested that regular aerobic exercise and daily movement can work as an effective anti-depressant.
This is because aerobic exercise can suppress the "fight-or-flight" response that is created by the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for stress responses, which can be calmed and subdued by intentional physical activity.
Additionally, exercise increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. That rush you feel during and after a run? It's due to a release of endorphins-- the "feel good" neurotransmitters produced by the body.
5. Support Your Immune System
When you perform aerobic exercise, your immune system will experience changes in antibodies and white blood cells. When active, it's easier for white blood cells to alert the body to illness. This sort of physical activity also works to flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways through the respiratory and lymphatic systems.
When you exercise, your body temperature will likely increase. This can help kill unwanted bacteria in the body-- almost like your temperature increases to fight off bugs when you're sick!
Because aerobic exercise promotes strong bones and decreases the chance of heart disease, the common cold, flu, and other illnesses, a body with aerobic endurance is often a healthier one.
6. Avoid Chronic Disease
Along with cardiovascular support, aerobic exercise can help stave off a myriad of other chronic diseases. Some of these non-cardiovascular diseases include:
- Type 2 diabetes
If you're currently living with chronic illness, make sure you consult with your doctor before attempting high-impact or intense aerobic exercise. Starting slow is the best way to ensure you don't worsen your condition or put yourself at risk for injury.
7. Managing Blood Sugar
When you perform aerobic exercise, your body uses the reserve sugar stored in your muscles and liver for energy. Because your body still needs these stores to function, it will then divert sugar from the blood in order to maintain its stores. Your body will also become more sensitive to insulin during this time, which is great news for those who are prone to type 2 diabetes.
For those already managing diabetes, controlling this blood glucose level can help you avoid the risk of nerve pain and kidney disease.
8. Cognitive Function
Amazingly, aerobic exercise has a high impact on improving cognitive function in adults. This kind of movement helps to create and release proteins that are essential to growing nerve cells and connections in the brain. These neural pathways are essential for brain health and performance.
Aerobic exercise can affect the brain both directly and indirectly. By improving sleep and reducing stress, this type of exercise helps with one's memory and critical thinking skills. This type of movement will also help cognitive function directly by learning new skills and movement patterns.
Some aerobic exercises have been known to improve functions like:
- Planning and reacting
- Working memory
- Attention and focus
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Verbal reasoning
Simply getting outside for a brisk walk can do wonders for your work-day brain. Be sure to incorporate this kind of movement to experience the benefits at both the workplace as well as at home!
9. Body Movement
The old adage is true-- if you don't use it, you lose it.
Increasing the amount of mindful body movement that you do will help to improve your movement patterns and your comfortability with any physical activity. Practicing consistent aerobic exercise will re-teach your body how to move and play like it could when you were a kid. It can increase your strength, flexibility, and confidence.
Suddenly, learning to tango with your partner doesn't feel like such an unreachable goal.
10. A Healthy Hobby
Looking for a way to liven up your relationships or your free time? Aerobic exercise is a rewarding and challenging pastime, one that can be shared with friends and teammates. Many lifelong friends and partnerships are made in the gym, on the trail, or in group activities that involve physical fitness.
Joining a team or a gym isn't the only way to make aerobic exercise a hobby. Fitness is certainly an activity that many perform on their own, as it brings them a sense of peace and goal-oriented satisfaction. Simply put, it feels good to sweat.
How Much Do We Need?
How much aerobic exercise is needed in order to reap the benefits? Per the updated guidelines, experts at the American Heart Association say that the following is sufficient:
- At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- At least 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity
- A combination of both
300 minutes a week (5 hours) is considered to be an "advanced" amount of aerobic activity and is a common expectation for a lot of highly active adults.
Given how much many of us spend sitting sedentary for work, it's important to spread out this movement to allow your body a regular opportunity to exert itself. Once a routine has been established, it's much easier to make regular aerobic exercise part of your life.
Regular Aerobic Exercise Gives an Individual Vitality
Are you convinced yet? Maybe you've started to take longer walks or have focused more on getting your heart rate up during workouts. Whatever the improvement, your body is sure to thank you.
It's certainly not a stretch to assert that active people live longer and happier lives. Our bodies were designed for consistent physical activity and perform the best under stress when we've given it a chance to get stronger.
With aerobic exercise, mental health, cognitive function, heart vitality, and movement capabilities all greatly improve. Imagine a life of hiking mountains and playing with your kids. Regular aerobic exercise gives an individual so much to look forward to.
We believe that healthcare is a human right. Because of this, your health is our priority. For more tips and resources along the way, check out our blog.
External Works Cited
Internal Works Cited