Weight loss |
Weight loss |
Cardiovascular exercise is a powerful tool against poor health and chronic illness. It’s any type of activity that gets your heart rate up—think a brisk walk, a bike ride, or some laps in the pool. The benefits include lowered disease risk, increased cognitive ability, and improved physical fitness—all of which can also support an effective, lasting weight loss program.
And the best part is that you don’t have to have an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to reap the benefits.
Instead, all you need to do is get moving.
We’ve put together a guide to the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, like how much movement is recommended, and the top activities that bring results. If you need home workout ideas or help creating a workout plan, we’ve got those, too!
The benefits you get from aerobic exercise are critical to your overall good health and weight loss success. Let’s review how cardiovascular exercise impacts your body in more detail. Take a look:
Following a regular aerobic exercise routine could improve several different health measures.
Your heart is a muscle. Like all of your other muscles, it needs to be worked out to get stronger. A stronger heart:
beats less frequently
is more efficient with each pump.
moves blood through your body more effectively
These three factors make your heart less susceptible to decline and disease.
When your heart pumps more efficiently, it pushes out more blood with each beat. This increased efficiency can decrease your blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, you can see how cardiovascular exercise can lower your risk of a heart attack as you age.
Regular cardiovascular exercise can help stabilize blood sugar levels. In fact, a balanced movement plan of at least 150-175 minutes a week, including aerobic, strength training, and a healthy diet, can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes between 40%-70%. How is that possible? Because when you work out regularly, your muscles process glycogen more effectively—making this an important health benefit of cardio exercise.
Frequent aerobic exercise could even make your immune system stronger. Getting in the recommended amount of activity can increase your body’s production of inflammation-battling white blood cells. You might get fewer colds and other illnesses as you get more physically fit.
Another one of the benefits of cardiovascular exercise is that it lowers your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels while increasing the HDL or “good” kind of cholesterol. High levels of LDL are associated with several significant health problems, including:
narrowing of the arteries
You read the right: Aerobic exercise is critical to optimal brain health and function. When you develop a regular exercise habit, you could notice a significant improvement in your:
Mood Exercise has long been recognized as a mood booster. It triggers the release of endorphins—hormones that make you feel good.
Stress level Aerobic exercise reduces levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline—allowing you to better deal with life’s daily stressors. It may also help mitigate stress’s negative impact on your heart and immune system.
Sleep quality A small study by researchers at Northwestern University found that regular moderate aerobic exercise helped improve sleep quality and reduced the time it took for subjects to fall asleep each night. Better rest is associated with everything from improved heart health t0 weight care.
Energy While we’re on the subject of sleep… Getting better quality shut-eye may give you more energy throughout the day. And that can encourage you to exercise more and create a healthy cycle.
When you adhere to a regular cardiovascular exercise routine, you’ll develop:
Here’s what that means: The more you work out, the easier it will become. Your heart, lungs, and muscles adapt to the challenge and, in time, your sessions will feel less difficult. When that happens, you can push yourself a little harder and achieve even more cardio gains. More frequent or intense cardio workouts can also ratchet up the calorie-burning power of your workout routines.
Cardio exercise uses major muscle groups, such as:
Engaging these muscle groups regularly helps develop strength. And stronger muscles are less susceptible to injury, which allows you to keep your workouts on track.
Regular cardio activities burn calories quickly, leading to more significant weight loss than dieting alone. A study in the research journal Obesity analyzed the impact of regular aerobic exercise on subjects and found that those who exercised five days per week for ten months lost weight, while those who didn’t exercise gained weight.
When you combine the power of exercise with a healthy diet and lifestyle, you give yourself the best possible chance to reach your weight-loss goals.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.
Moderate aerobic exercise will raise your heart and breathing rates. As a rule of thumb, you should still be able to speak while performing the activity. (This is the “talk test” you may have heard about.) Vigorous physical activity bumps up your breathing and heart rate. Speaking should be difficult during vigorous exercise.
Your best approach is to break up this time into multiple sessions. For example, you can exercise for 30 minutes five days per week. Or you can try three ten-minute workouts throughout the day if that’s better for your schedule. You’ll still get the same benefits with mini-sessions as you would with a longer one.
It’s easier than you think to get in the recommended amount of moderate-intensity exercise every day. Some regular physical activities that’ll help you reach your goal include:
swimming laps at a slow pace
riding a stationary bike
cycling on a flat outdoor path
using an elliptical trainer
mowing the lawn with a push mower
cleaning your house
As you can see, many of these require little to no equipment besides comfortable shoes and clothing. Talk to your doctor first if you’re just starting an exercise program. And start your program slowly so you can build up your stamina before trying more vigorous physical exercise. Doing so will help prevent injuries as you work to improve your fitness.
Once you’ve established a moderate aerobic routine, you can begin to add more intense workouts. These activities will give your fitness a big boost—but take some time to work up to. They include:
running or jogging
cycling over hilly terrain
playing singles tennis
swimming laps at a fast pace
Already have a type of movement you enjoy? You can also challenge yourself a little more by:
increasing your speed
upping the duration of exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is critical to weight loss and good overall mental and physical health. And with a bit of planning and dedication, meeting the American Heart Association’s recommendation for aerobic exercise is totally achievable.
But, sometimes even when you’re working hard and sticking to your weight loss plan, your body works against you. That’s where we come in. AtFound, we emphasize a scientific approach supplemented with highly personalized support to help you on your weight journey and improve your health.
Take our quiz today to see if we’re the right choice for you.
Cleveland Clinic. What is Aerobic Exercise? https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7050-aerobic-exercise
Mayo Clinic. Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541
American Heart Association. Exercise Can Help You Manage Blood Pressure and More. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/getting-active-to-control-high-blood-pressure#.Ww_2FmaZOi4
Johns Hopkins. 7 Heart Benefits of Exercise. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-heart-benefits-of-exercise
Neuroendocrinology. The Effects of Exercise on the Immune System and Stress Hormones In Sportswomen. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.567.3215&rep=rep1&type=pdf
NHS Inform. High Cholesterol. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/blood-and-lymph/high-cholesterol
Mayo Clinic. Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
Science Direct. Aerobic Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sleep and Quality of Life In Older Adults with Insomnia. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945710002868?via%3Dihub
Obesity. Aerobic Exercise Alone Results in Clinically Significant Weight Loss For Men and Women. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20145
American Heart Association. American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults?utm_source=redirect_heartorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=301#.Ww_HpWaZOi4
CDC. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
Cleveland Clinic. Aerobic Exercise. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7050-aerobic-exercise