“I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down!”The Big Bad Wolf
What are the benefits of aerobic exercise? We’ve all heard the story of the three little pigs as children, but always from the point of view of the pigs. As wiser (hopefully) adults, let’s take a step back and think – How was the big bad wolf able to bring down the first two houses?
Two words: Aerobic Exercise.
The American Heart Association considers aerobic exercise to be “activity that keeps your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy”. Let’s talk about these vital components, their effects on our body and how to keep them healthy in the long run.
Our heart is responsible for pumping a crucial atomic element throughout our body, our lungs carry out the duty of disposing of the waste product generated by the use of this element, while the circulatory system works in tandem with the heart for transporting it.
So what is this mysterious element? Oxygen.
In fact, you might have heard of it during in-flight safety demonstrations on airlines – every single time you board an airplane. The host/hostess charmingly smile as they churn out the same lines every time: “In the event of a decompression, an *oxygen* mask will appear in front of you…”.
Turns out oxygen quickly becomes relevant when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and aerobic exercise is the medium through which we achieve that fit body. Besides releasing endorphins (the feel good chemical) in our body, the benefits of aerobic exercise are numerous.
Physical Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
1. Strengthens Cardiovascular Endurance
Aerobic exercise helps to strengthen your heart so that it can more efficiently pump blood throughout your body. Think of it this way: The more pumps required, the weaker the heart.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure and Controls Blood Sugar
Although blood pressure increases during exercise, it also trains your body to be more “flexible” internally. Furthermore, it helps maintain an adequate balance of insulin – ensuring that your cells get the energy they need when you’re struggling on the dynamic mode of an elliptical.
3. Regulates Weight
One of the more well known benefits of aerobic exercise is that it helps you burn through those excess calories and maintain a fit lifestyle. Getting your daily fix is necessary – you’ll need to be consistent for at least a month before seeing any visible results!
4. Improves Sleep
Aerobic exercise’s effect also seeps through in other areas such as helping you sleep better. In a study carried out by the Department of Neurology at Northwestern University, researchers came to the conclusion that aerobic exercise resulted in improved sleep quality – and that was in a sample of older adults with chronic insomnia.
5. Reinforces Overall Health
If you’re exercising regularly, you can see its effects in other areas as well like improved posture, ability to recover quicker, and improved balance & agility.
Mental Health Benefits Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
1. Boosts Cognitive Performance
Aerobic exercise has been correlated with improved brain functioning. In fact, that correlation stems back all the way to ancient China in the practice of Tai chi – and a 2014 study shows that it has the potential to boost cognitive power. Take that treadmills!
2. Improves Your Mood
According to a study carried out by Karmel Choi, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, aerobic exercise has resulted in short term improvements in moods and is associated with a reduced risk for depression.
3. Economic Considerations
Let’s be honest – getting into shape can be an expensive endeavor if you go down the route of premium gym memberships and personal trainers. Luckily, one of the benefits of aerobic exercise is that there is enough variety that you can spend as low as $0!
Aerobic exercise can be accomplished using a variety of methods. We’ll explore three “levels” of equipment you can use to get that daily dose.
In its simplest form, you can just jog your neighborhood at a brisk pace with increasing pace and distance over time. Sometimes you don’t need any equipment at all – jumping jacks, mountain climbers and squats are all great starting points (pushing your lawn mower depends on how large your lawn is so we’re not considering that, okay?).
If you’re ready to invest some money and effort, then getting a jump rope (around $10) and a medicine ball (around $30) should be enough for you to start targeting specific muscles. Plus, medicine balls also allow you to experience the joy of simply rolling around!
Looking for a more intense workout?
Jogging around the neighborhood isn’t always an option either. Perhaps the weather isn’t suitable, you’re a little body-conscious, or you’re recovering from an injury and are concerned about the impact on your joints. That’s where ellipticals and treadmills come in.
Ellipticals help you start off with a low-intensity workout that’s softer on your joints while you build resistance in your shoulders and back muscles. Plus, you can usually find a song that matches your body rotation frequency as you’re working out!
After you’ve conquered the elliptical, it’s time to move on to the treadmill. This is where you can get creative with your workouts by playing around with the controls – jog around the neighborhood on Monday, climb your state summit on Wednesday and practice sprint runs on Fridays!
Lastly, let’s tackle that dreaded question – how much should you exercise?
According to the CDC, it is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. That translates to just 30 minutes per day! If you’re looking to lose weight then you’ll need to double that while carefully observing your caloric intake. A moderately intense workout would then mean incorporating exercises like burpees, swimming or sprinting.
Regardless of your choice, the main point is to ensure that you make a plan and *stick* to it. Consistency is going to be your savior in the long run.
Here’s a question to ponder after you’ve built up those calf muscles and improved your cardiovascular health:
What are you going to have for dinner?
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Hey I’m Patrick!
I built my first home gym in 2012, when I decided I was tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and I started GGC in 2020 to help people find the info they need to improve their fitness and their lives.
I’m passionate about fitness, especially when it comes to working out at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to do and what not to do, and my mission is to share that knowledge with the world!