Regardless of age, weight or athletic ability, aerobic exercise is good for you. Regular aerobic activity, such as walking, bicycling or swimming, can help you live longer and healthier. Need motivation? See how aerobic exercise affects your heart, lungs and blood flow. Then get moving and start reaping the rewards.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try cardiovascular exercise during your waking hours. A study on individuals with chronic sleep issues revealed that a regular exercise program combined with sleep hygiene education is an effective treatment for insomnia. Participants engaged in aerobic activity for 16 weeks and then completed questionnaires about their sleep and general mood. The activity group reported better sleep quality and duration, as well as improvements in their daytime wakefulness and vitality.Exercising too close to bedtime may make it more difficult to sleep, however. Try to finish your workout at least two hours before bedtime.
Reduced risk of certain health problems
Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It can lower blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol by reducing the levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increasing the amount of HDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol). It can also reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as instilling a general sense of well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has even been shown to have the potential to increase your lifespan.
A higher percentage of fat is burned during aerobic exercise than during anaerobic exercise. Here’s why. Fat is denser than carbohydrate (fat has nine calories per gram and carbohydrate has four), and so it takes more oxygen to burn it. During aerobic exercise, more oxygen is delivered to the muscles than during anaerobic exercise, and so it follows that a higher percentage of fat is burned during aerobic exercise when more oxygen is available. When less oxygen is present, like during anaerobic exercise, a higher percentage of carbohydrate is burned.
Improves cardiovascular health
Aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association and by most doctors to people with, or at risk for, heart disease. That’s because exercise strengthens your heart and helps it more efficiently pump blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular exercise can also help lower blood pressure, and keep your arteries clear by raising “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.
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.
Increase your stamina, fitness and strength
You may feel tired when you first start regular aerobic exercise. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue. You can also gain increased heart and lung fitness and bone and muscle strength over time.