The 411 on Aerobic Exercise

My Neat Health's mission is to help Americans live their best lives through better nutrition by providing healthy and delicious entrees, meal replacement bars, and more. But, of course, another crucial element to living your best life is physical activity, including aerobic exercise. But, maybe you may wonder what is "aerobic" exercise, how can it help me live a better life, and how much is enough?

Today, we're here to get the 411 on aerobic exercise.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

WebMD defines aerobic exercise as "cardiovascular conditioning that strengthens both your heart and lungs. The word 'aerobic' means 'with oxygen,' as this kind of exercise is fueled by the oxygen that you get from breathing." With aerobic exercise, you move large muscles, which causes your blood vessels to widen to carry oxygen to those muscles and carry away waste products.

During aerobic exercise, you may notice your heart beating faster and that you're breathing faster and more deeply. However, what you may not immediately notice is the release of endorphins - natural painkillers that increase your sense of well-being - aerobic exercise causes.

A few examples of aerobic exercise include the following:

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Walking briskly
  • Biking
  • Heavy cleaning or gardening

On the other hand, Anaerobic exercise is "high-intensity exercise that's meant to be short and fast." Instead of using oxygen to keep the muscles going, your body uses energy already stored in your muscles. Examples of anaerobic exercise include weight lifting, sprints, and high-intensity interval training. Anaerobic exercise has many benefits, such as building muscle and strengthening bones.

What are the Benefits of Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise benefits your body, brain, and emotional well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Studies show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don't exercise regularly. They may also have a lower risk of dying of all causes, such as heart disease and certain cancers."

Here are a few of the many benefits of aerobic exercise researchers have found:

  • Helps you lose weight and keep it off
  • Increases your fitness, stamina, and strength
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Helps control blood sugar
  • Improves lung function
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Boosts your good cholesterol and lowers your bad cholesterol
  • Improves your mental well-being
  • Reduces asthma symptoms
  • Enhances cognitive performance

How Much Aerobic Exercise is Enough?

The CDC recommends that adults ages 18-64 get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, and at least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.

"Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level. Individuals with a chronic disease or a disability benefit from regular physical activity, as do women who are pregnant," the CDC states. "The scientific evidence continues to build—physical activity is linked with even more positive health outcomes than we previously thought. And, even better, benefits can start accumulating with small amounts of, and immediately after doing physical activity."

And yet, nearly 80% of adults do not get the amount of aerobic and muscle-strengthening recommended. According to the CDC, "This lack of physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10 percent of premature mortality."

Before starting any exercise program, experts recommend that you speak with your physician to determine if you have any limitations or health conditions that require additional safety precautions.

Start Living Your Best Life Today

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  • Lose Weight
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