Physical activity is an essential part of leading a healthy life and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that everyone should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity exercises every week. Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio exercises, are some of the most effective physical activities and have many benefits to impart. The word aerobic means “requiring or with oxygen”. As the name implies, these exercises increase your oxygen intake and heart rate and thereby improve cardiovascular fitness.
Types of aerobic exercise
The American Heart Association explains that there are two levels of aerobic exercises, and both are equally good for your heart.
- The first type is moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, during which your heart beats faster and you breathe more deeply than normal but you’re still able to talk. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercises include brisk walking, water aerobics, dancing and gardening.
- The second type is vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, during which your body is pushed further than in moderate, leading to more sweat. In this intensity of exercise, you won’t be able to talk without becoming out of breath. Vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises include running, swimming, aerobic dancing, tennis, cycling, jumping rope, hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack and high-intensity interval training.
Benefits of aerobic exercise
The Cleveland Clinic says that engaging in regular aerobic exercise can improve your overall health status. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, in fact, are safe for everyone and should be done by all. Vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises, however, should only be performed with the recommendation or approval of a physician and under proper guidance and conditions. This is especially true for the aged and those living with underlying conditions like heart disease, hypertension, low blood pressure, arthritis and pulmonary problems. The following are some of the key benefits you can gain by doing aerobic exercises regularly.
1. Aids weight loss: As with any well-structured exercise regimen, following a regular aerobic exercise routine for at least 30 minutes a day can help you burn fat and stay in shape. Aerobic exercises also tone and improve lean muscle mass in the body, which also increases your body strength while helping you lose weight at the same time.
2. Prevents metabolic diseases: A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that performing aerobic exercises regularly can increase the production of an enzyme called DICER in the body, which in turn stops or reverses the processes of ageing and weight gain. Increased DICER production also helps prevent or delay metabolic diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol from showing up.
3. Improves heart health: The very purpose of aerobic exercises, as the alternative name cardio suggests, is to improve cardiovascular conditioning and decrease resting heart rates. Aerobic exercises also keep blood pressure levels in check. These markers indicate that your heart is strong and healthy and further prevent the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
4. Increases lung capacity: Harvard Health Publishing says that regular aerobic exercise can improve your lung capacity by increasing the amount of oxygen you take in with each breath. Adding some resistance into your aerobic exercise, for example by hiking uphill or with weights or using HIIT, can make these improvements in lung capacity even more pronounced and effective.
For more information, read our article on Aerobic exercise.
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