There are many benefits of exercise, including staying healthy, getting stronger, and feeling great. However, there is more than one type of exercise. Aerobic exercise is any type of physical activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe hard. And your body will thank you for it.
Aerobic exercise is any type of physical activity that works your large muscles and uses your oxygen more efficiently. The goal is to increase your heart rate, making you breathe harder and faster. That’s why it’s also known as cardiovascular exercise.
The more you exercise, the more your lungs and heart get used to the higher rate of activity and the stronger they become. This helps them work better. If you regularly do aerobic exercise, you will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two big risk factors for heart disease.
Aerobic exercise can improve your sleep quality, bolster your immune system, elevate your mood, and preserve your cognitive function.
Aerobic exercise involves large muscles that use oxygen, like the biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles in your arms or the quads in your legs.
Your heart and lungs provide oxygen to your muscles. Your breath and heart rate increase in order to get more oxygen to your muscles.
Aerobic exercise is any continuous exercise that:
- uses the large muscle groups
- keeps a rhythm going in your movements
What Counts as Aerobic Exercise
Repetitive, rhythmic exercises involving your larger muscle groups might include:
- Jumping jacks
- Sports that require constant movement, such as tennis, basketball, or soccer.
Other activities that get your heart rate up and make you breathe hard count as aerobic activity, too. More than just dedicated training time is necessary for aerobic activity; other activities that quicken one’s heart rate and make them breathe heavily are also aerobic activity.
The following might not feel like exercise when you’re doing them, but the American Heart Association (AHA) give them as examples of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity:
- Gardening, especially intense work like hoeing or digging
- A brisk walk around the block
- Social dancing
You can and should make time for exercise in a way that is fun and supports your daily routine.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise helps improve your heart, lungs, and immune system function, as well as increase mental agility and well-being.
1. It Makes your Heart Stronger
Aerobic exercise is key to a healthy heart plan as it works your heart and lungs hard. Keeping your heart healthy and strong is important for maintaining regular blood flow.
Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle and allows it to pump more blood with each beat. If your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, it can pump more blood with each heartbeat. This means that your heart rate will be lower when you are resting and your blood pressure will be lower as well.
2. It Helps Balance your Cholesterol
Cholesterol isn’t only bad – your liver actually produces it. HDL cholesterol helps remove harmful types of cholesterol from the body.
A type of cholesterol known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) can sometimes get stuck in the walls of blood vessels. Making sure your arteries are clear of cholesterol and avoiding blockages is key to preventing heart disease and stroke.
A 2017 article in The World Journal of Cardiology found that aerobic exercise can help increase your levels of “good” cholesterol while reducing your levels of “bad” cholesterol.
3. It Lowers your Blood Pressure
Exercising aerobically can help to lower your blood pressure significantly, to the point where experts recommend it as a treatment for chronic high blood pressure in addition to medication.
One of the main causes of stroke is high blood pressure. If blood exerts too much pressure on the walls of blood vessels on a regular basis, it can make them more likely to become blocked or to rupture.
Blood flow to the brain can be blocked during a stroke by either a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. This lack of blood flow means that the brain isn’t getting the vital oxygen it needs.
High blood pressure does not tend to cause any noticeable symptoms until it reaches a more severe stage. One of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease is to make aerobic exercise part of your routine.
4. It Supports your Immune System
Your immune system responds directly to exercise.
Your body produces more disease-fighting cells and proteins after physical activity. These target infections and harmful organisms in your body.
A small study of older adults found that those who exercised regularly were less likely to get upper respiratory infections and those infections lasted for a shorter time.
People who run frequently may be less likely to die from pneumonia or lung disease than people who don’t run. The researchers found that the women who exercised had a greater immune response to a flu vaccine than the sedentary women. The researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that the active women had a greater immune response to a flu vaccine than the sedentary women.
- one group exercised on a treadmill for 30 minutes
- another group did a burst of intense activity over 30 seconds
- the last group did not exercise
The women had their blood taken before, after, and at different intervals in the days and weeks after these exercise sessions.
The results showed that regular and moderate aerobic exercise increases the levels of certain antibodies in the blood called immunoglobulins. That ultimately strengthens the immune system.
The women who didn’t exercise saw no improvement in their immune system function, and their cortisol levels were much higher than the women who did exercise.
5. It Improves your Blood Sugar Control
It is common for your blood sugar levels to increase and then decrease after you eat. Large and regular fluctuations in blood sugar levels have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Blood glucose levels increase after eating and peak around the 90 minute mark. Exercise lowers blood glucose levels. Exercising after you eat can help keep your blood glucose levels in check.
Something as simple as walk can help control blood sugar levels. Light walking after a meal – even for 2 to 5 minutes – can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, the researchers found.
6. It Could Boost your Brain and Mental Health
Working out can improve your mental state and well-being.
Research has shown that exercise can improve memory, attention, and psychological well-being by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Some research indicates that exercising regularly can have positive effects on academic performance for young people and decreased risk of dementia later in life.
Aerobic exercise can help people manage mental health conditions by improving mental well-being and reducing stress levels. Most research linking physical exercise with positive mental health outcomes involved aerobic exercise, as found in a 2021 review.
A recent study has found that both aerobic and anaerobic exercise can help to manage anxiety and PTSD. The researchers realize that more research is necessary because people have different reactions to exercise.
7. Reduces Asthma Symptoms
Aerobic exercise can help people with asthma by lessening the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. You should talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine if you have asthma.
They may recommend specific activities or precautions to help prevent you from getting injured while working out.
8. Reduces Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic back pain, exercises that are low impact, like swimming or aqua aerobics, may help improve your muscle function and endurance. Exercise can help improve your chronic back pain as well as help with weight loss.
9. Aids Sleep
If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep at night, you may want to try doing some cardiovascular exercise during the day.
According to a study on people with chronic sleep problems, a regular exercise program combined with sleep hygiene education is an effective treatment for insomnia.
The participants did aerobic activity for 16 weeks and then completed questionnaires about their sleep and how they were feeling in general. The activity group reported that they slept better and for longer, as well as feeling more awake and lively during the day.
Although exercising close to bedtime may help you fall asleep more quickly, it may also make it more difficult to stay asleep through the night. It’s best to finish your workout at least two hours before bedtime.
10. Boosts Mood
Moving your body may also improve your mood. The study found that people who walked on the treadmill doing intervals for 30 minutes a session had a decrease in depression. The subjects were asked to report any changes in their mood after 10 days.
Everyone who took part in the study said that their depression got better. The results of the study suggest that exercise, even for a short period of time, can have a significant impact on mood.
You will see improvement within a few days. According to the study results, even a single exercise session can improve your mood.
11. Reduces Risk of Falls
One third of people over the age of 65 fall each year. Falls can cause broken bones and potentially create lifelong injuries or disabilities. Exercise may help reduce your risk for falls. People of all ages can benefit from regular physical activity Even if you are worried that you are too old to start exercising, there is no need to be. People of all ages can benefit from exercising regularly. You have much to gain.
The study found that aerobic dance can reduce the risk of falling by promoting better balance and agility in women aged 72 to 87.
The women worked out for an hour, 3 times a week, for a total of 12 weeks. This committed workout schedule allowed the women to improve their cardio health and muscle tone. The dance sessions focused on squats, balancing on legs, and other basic large muscle movements. Grip strength and reach also improved.
12. Safe for Most People, Including Kids
Experts recommend that people of all ages participate in cardiovascular exercise to stay healthy. This is especially important for those who have chronic health conditions. What is most important is working together with your doctor to figure out a plan that is both effective for you and safe given your unique circumstances.
Even children should get regular aerobic exercise to promote good childhood health. The recommendations for kids are higher than for adults.
The goal is to get your child to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. It is good for kids to do moderate activities, but they should also do vigorous activities at least three days each week.
13. Affordable and Accessible
You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership or expensive equipment to get a good workout. You can easily get your daily exercise by taking a walk around your neighborhood or going for a jog with a friend on a local trail.
Most people should aim to get around 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity at least five days each week in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means that you should spend around 150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours per week on this activity. You can vary the intensity and types of activities to keep things interesting.
If you’re new to activity, start short and slow. You can always build as your fitness level improves. Remember: Any movement is better than no movement.
If you don’t have much time, you can break up your exercise into several smaller parts throughout the day. You don’t have to do a lot of aerobic exercise to get the benefits.