Move that Body: The Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Regular aerobic activity, such as swimming, hiking, walking, and jogging, as well as group exercise classes, such as Zumba, can enhance your quality of life and promote lifelong fitness and good health.

Studies show that people who participate in daily aerobic fitness activities . . .

  • decrease their risk of heart disease and chronic illness
  • experience lower blood pressure and improved efficiency in the muscles used for breathing and circulation
  • maintain a healthy body weight, including lean muscle, by burning fat for energy
  • enhance muscle balance, coordination, and agility
  • manage stress effectively and recover better from stressful events

Getting Started: Steady Progress Reaps Benefits

A 20 minute stroll after dinner or during your lunch break is a wonderful first step toward improving the health of your heart and lungs and enhancing muscle endurance. As you become comfortable with more movement, begin following The American Heart Association’s recommendations for enhancing overall cardiovascular health:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week;

OR

  • 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, first consult with your physician and a personal trainer at a YMCA, JCC or reputable fitness center. Take Note: if your physician recommends exercise for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, the AHA suggests an average of 40 minutes of aerobic activity three or four times per week, at moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

Choose an activity you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. You’ll also be more likely to maintain an exercise routine when you work out with a partner or small group. Steady progress provides more benefit than going “all out” and suffering an injury. Be patient. Give yourself several weeks for your body and mind to adjust to your healthy behavior change.

References

  • What Aerobic Exercise Does for Your Health http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
  • Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans: A Statement for Health Professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/94/4/857.full
  • AHA.org. “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults” Accessed 5 Sept 2017: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.Wa72tK0_k19
  • AHA.org “Benefits of Aerobic (Endurance) Exercise” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Endurance-Exercise-Aerobic_UCM_464004_Article.jsp#.WY8Tu8a-I18
  • Physical Activity and Public Health: A Recommendation From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=386766