There are many different habits and workouts you can do to improve your life. What about aerobic exercise, what benefits can you expect?
One way to divide exercise is into two categories called aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is lower-intensity exercise where your body can use oxygen to sustain your current level of movement. Aerobic exercise examples include low tempo jogging, cycling, swimming,…
At some intensity point oxygen alone is not enough this is called anaerobic exercise. For this your body also starts using fuel like glucose. Anaerobic exercise examples include sprinting, lifting heavy weights, jumping,…
Keep in mind that even aerobic exercises can lead to injuries. If you’re starting to exercise again after a long time it may be smarter to start out at a very low intensity and build up from there.
That being said, if your body is able to deal with the aerobic exercise you choose, adding it to your routine can offer you some of the following amazing benefits.
1. Stronger muscles
While cardio exercise mainly focuses on your cardiovascular system, these types of workout also help you build and preserve a little muscle in other areas.
That being said if you are serious about building muscle you do generally want to choose the strength training workouts which are in the anaerobic exercise category.
Extra muscle is not only beneficial for your health in many ways but it is also considered to be visually appealing.
What muscles you will work with aerobic exercise depends a lot on the specific exercises you do. Generally speaking, you can work out muscles over your entire body with aerobic exercise.
2. Stronger immune system
Your immune system is a collection of biological processes that protects you from diseases.
You do have to keep in mind that at some point working out can turn into overtraining which can weaken immune function.
3. Can help with losing weight
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Doing aerobic exercise can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
As an aerobic exercise example, 30 minutes of jogging at 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh) can help you burn around 266-457+ calories depending on weight, intensity, and much more.
The actual number of calories you burn during an aerobic workout will again depend a lot on the specific exercises in the workout.
All in all, aerobic exercise can certainly help you burn some extra calories but high-intensity exercise is usually more time-efficient for calorie burning.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
4. Improved mood
Most people are not always completely aware of it but the physical health of the human body has a big influence on the mood and thoughts of the individual.
Aerobic exercise doesn’t just help with this by improving general health. There are inevitably many different reasons involved but one reason why aerobic exercise benefits mental health is that they promote the release of endorphins, “feel-good” hormones (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Besides the actual physiological changes aerobic exercise will cause, you will likely also have positive feelings about having done something challenging that’s good for you.
5. Improved cardiovascular health
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. By doing workouts like aerobic exercise you can strengthen your cardiovascular system which in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements and build up from there.
6. Improved cognitive function
Another benefit of aerobic exercise is that it can help you improve your cognitive function in a few ways. First of all, it can help with the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (17).
Another way working out benefits cognitive function is by improving brain plasticity (18, 19, 20). Better brain plasticity basically means that you are able to learn things faster, see the connection between things faster, and remember things better.
That means that adding an aerobic exercise session to your routine can benefit you by improving areas like your academic performance, job performance, and much more.
7. Improved bone density
This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.
The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long-term.
How much and which bones aerobic workouts strengthen will vary from exercise to exercise. In any case something like jogging is likely better than walking for bone density since you put more pressure on your bones with jogging. Walking in turn is likely better than swimming for bone density since you put more pressure on your bones with walking.
8. Lowers LDL
LDL, also known as low-density lipoproteins, is considered to be “bad” cholesterol since there are negative side effects associated with having high levels of LDL in your blood.
9. Healthier lungs
To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.
By using your lungs more, thanks to workouts like aerobic exercise, you can improve how well they work (30, 31, 32, 32, 33). Generally the more intense your aerobic exercise the more it benefits your lung capacity.
Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.
10. Slows down aging
Most people think of age as the number of days, months, and years that have passed since the day they were born, this is usually referred to as their chronological age. There are also many other ways to measure “age” based on physiological factors (34).
Aerobic exercise obviously won’t have an influence on the number of days that have passed since you were born. However, physical activity can slow down the aging in terms of how fast other measurement methods progress (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
In general these other age measurements are more accurate methods than chronological age for assessing risk on age-related diseases. Slowing these down can be a huge benefit for your health.
11. Helps against type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that involves consequences like high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and lack of insulin. These things in turn can have really bad consequences so type 2 diabetes is definitely something you want to avoid.
12. Improves sleep
Good quality and duration sleep are extremely important for your physical health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many people can do a lot better with both quality and duration.
A lot of the things you do throughout the day influence the quality and duration in some way. One of the things that can benefit sleep a relatively high amount is doing a workout like aerobic exercise (46, 47, 48).
You do want to keep in mind that exercising too close to bed time can have the reverse effect and mess with your sleep. Make sure you give your body time enough time to calm down after a workout. For most people this comes down to avoiding exercises at least an hour or two before going to sleep.
13. Regulates blood pressure
Your blood pressure is how much pressure the blood circulating in your blood vessels pushes against the walls of these vessels. This measurement is a popular way to determine how healthy your heart is.
Another benefit of aerobic exercise is that it can help you regulate blood pressure (49, 50, 51). This happens because of the influence of a variety of consequences you get from aerobic exercise including a stronger heart, less stress, expected weight loss, and more.
14. Improves coordination and balance
Although with some aerobic exercises more than others, you will likely challenge your balance and coordination skills with aerobic workouts. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills. Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.
The benefits of improved coordination don’t just show up in other technical sports. Daily activities as simple as walking the stairs require coordination.
While inevitably some anaerobic workouts are better for some of these benefits than aerobic exercise, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
One thing you need to remember is that some aerobic exercises can be hard on a wide variety of body parts including your knees, heart, and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. If you are in a situation like that, walking, the elliptical trainer, or swimming may be some of the better aerobic exercise choices to start with.
The recommended number of aerobic training sessions will vary from person to person.
Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor for a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If aerobic exercise is a workout you love, great. If not there are plenty of other exercises to consider that can also offer a lot of benefits.