Regular aerobic exercise has the potential to reduce several health risks ranging from heart disease to dementia, as it is particularly effective in causing the heart and lungs to work harder than usual. Health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week that could include a mix of running, cycling, walking, swimming and aerobic classes, to benefit the body and brain.
Aerobic exercise benefits for body:
Preventing heart disease: Aerobic exercise is essential for keeping the heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy and reducing the risk of death from heart diseases.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Aerobic exercise can help people wishing to lose weight by burning more calories than they consume, resulting in a caloric deficit. However, to reach a caloric deficit, most people will also need to reduce the number of calories that they consume.
Controlling blood sugar levels: Keeping blood sugar levels under control by maintaining it within a healthy range is important for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar also damages blood vessels and lead to heart disease. Aerobic exercise can increase insulin sensitivity so that the body requires less insulin to control blood sugar levels. During exercise, the muscles also use glucose from the blood. In this way, exercise helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high.
Lowering blood pressure: Over a period of time, high blood pressure which puts stress on the blood vessels and heart, can have serious consequences, such as increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Aerobic exercise can help keep blood pressure within a healthy range, and is as effective as blood pressure medications in reducing high blood pressure.
Preventing and managing stroke: When blood supply to an area of the brain becomes obstructed it can lead to stroke, which can have life-threatening consequences. Regular aerobic exercise reduces the risk of a stroke by keeping the blood vessels and heart-healthy. It is also important for people who have had a stroke to stay as active as possible to support recovery and reduce the risk of another stroke.
Improving physical functioning: The ability to perform tasks on your own for daily living is important in maintaining independence and well-being. Aerobic exercise improves the physical capabilities that are necessary for a person to function on a daily basis. Physical fitness also helps prevent falls and the resulting injuries.
Aerobic exercise benefits for the brain:
Reducing the risk of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, can be prevented to a certain extent by engaging in regular aerobic exercise. Research has shown that people with higher levels of physical activity have a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Overcoming symptoms of depression and anxiety: Aerobic exercise has been found to reduce symptoms in people with depression and anxiety disorders. Aerobic exercise also improves physical fitness, which may help prevent the onset of depression and anxiety disorders.
Enhancing cognitive performance: Besides delaying cognitive decline, aerobic exercises have also been shown to enhance cognitive performance in children and adolescents, with children involved in daily exercise programs showing improved performance in cognitive tasks, such as memory tests, and in general having better grades in school.
Improving brain health: Research has shown that aerobic exercise enhances many biological processes that help the brain function. It has been shown to increase the size and function of key brain regions, such as the hippocampus; help the brain control responses to stress; reduce inflammation; increase resistance to oxidative stress. All of these factors contribute to
People who have chronic health conditions should check with a doctor to ensure whether aerobic exercise is suitable for their health.
For some people, it may be difficult to find time for sports or regular visits to the gym. However, making small changes to daily routines can help these individuals reach the recommended amount of physical activity.