Cardiovascular exercise, also known as endurance or aerobic exercise, is any activity that raises the heart rate and keeps it up for a prolonged period. It also increases respiration, promotes blood flow to various body parts, and increases oxygen delivery throughout the body while using the large muscles in your arms and legs repetitively and rhythmically. Let’s further explore the Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise!
Examples of cardiovascular exercise include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and running.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of the two spread throughout the week.
Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
1. Promoting cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular exercise – also known as cardio – is a form of physical activity that helps improve your heart health. Cardio can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve your overall conditioning. It also challenges the heart to get more active, strengthening its muscles and promoting efficient pumping of blood throughout the body.
Additionally, it can help reduce (LDL) bad cholesterol in the blood while increasing good cholesterol. This further lowers blood pressure and reduces risk for cardiovascular conditions like heart disease. See How To Prevent Heart Disease?
When performed regularly, cardio has been shown to be an effective way to improve your heart health. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of cardiovascular exercise:
2. Aiding weight loss
Cardiovascular exercises can be a great addition to your weight loss journey if looking to lose weight.
In a 2013 study, participating in cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, and treadmill 5 times a week for 10 months resulted in a significant weight loss without any dietary changes.
However, losing weight and being healthy are two different things, and I guess you want both. So don’t just look at the weight loss aspect of it, because you’re going to need healthy practices, including eating a healthy diet, to not only lose the weight but also stay healthy. What you eat and how you generally live your life can affect your weight and your health overall. See The Best Diet For Weight Loss.
3. Strengthening the immune system
A strong immune system is essential to help you recover from an illness, protect you from seasonal colds and flu, detect and fight infection, promote restful sleep and reduce fatigue.
Cardio boosts your immune system by helping to increase white blood cell count and fight off infection. Not only that, but it also promotes better sleep habits due to the release of endorphins – substances that have anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, if you’re regularly exercising, you’re less likely to catch a cold or feel lousy during flu season.
In one study, researchers examined the effects of exercise on the immune system of sedentary and active women. The women were grouped into three groups where one exercised on a treadmill for 30 minutes, another engaged in a burst of intense activities for 30 minutes, and the last group did not exercise.
The participants had their blood samples taken before, after, and throughout the study.
Results showed that regular and moderate aerobic activities increased the immune system by increasing immunoglobulins.
However, the sedentary group didn’t show any promising results and at the same time, their stress hormone cortisol was shown to be higher than the other groups.
Exercise also increases blood flow to the lymph and increases the circulation of immune cells throughout the body and in high numbers. It primarily promotes 2 highly specialized immune cells: the natural killer cells and T cells which help fight pathogens.
Further research shows that engaging in aerobic exercise at least 5 times a week over 12 weeks lowers the risk of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection by 40 percent. See How To Boost Your Immune System?.
4. Promoting brain function
Aerobic activity increases blood flow to the brain. This has a physiological effect and may help promote cognitive functions.
Aerobic exercise may also promote brain growth, which is beneficial in maintaining or improving cognitive performance, mainly because you start losing your brain tissues once you hit 30.
Cardiovascular activities can also increase glucose metabolism in the brain, promote information processing, improve memory and learning, and support healthy brain aging. Also, check out Vegan Brain Booster Foods.
5. Preventing inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that the body uses to fight infection and disease. But when inflammation levels are too high, it can lead to health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Any chronic condition today started as an inflammation that ended up repeatedly occurring, creating a conducive environment for a disease to develop. That’s why reducing your inflammatory markers is very important if you want to stay healthy. Research shows that regular cardiovascular exercises for at least 20 minutes daily can lower these markers.
Exercise can also help improve overall fitness levels. In addition, exercise has been shown to increase levels of antioxidants in your bloodstream, which can combat the formation of inflammatory molecules.
Also check out, The Top Ten Plant-Based Anti-Inflammatory Super Foods.
6. Boosting mood
Exercise is a natural mood booster and can profoundly benefit anxiety, depression, and ADHD. When you engage in aerobic activities, your body produces hormones and other chemical messengers like endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
A study involving patients with major depressive disorder walked on a treadmill in an interval pattern for 30 minutes every day for 10 days. At the end of the study, their depression scores had reduced. This shows that any moment spent exercising can significantly contribute to a better mood.
Exercise can also regulate and reset your internal clock, helping you sleep better. And if you sleep better, you’ll definitely be in a good mood. Also See, Tips For Better Mental Health.
7. Regulating blood glucose
Engaging in moderately-intense cardiovascular activities such as walking, swimming, or jogging, causes you to breathe harder and your heart to beat faster. This also causes your muscle to use more glucose as a source of energy, and over time, this may increase glucose uptake into the cells, helping you maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
However, these benefits may vary depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise. See also Best Foods To Lower And Regulate Blood Sugar.
8. Aiding better sleep
We all know that exercise is good for our health, but did you know that it can also improve your sleep? According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, people who exercised regularly reported improved sleep quality and quantity. The researchers found that people who exercised reported sleeping an average of 7.5 hours each night, compared to those who didn’t exercise.
So how many hours of exercise do you need to improve your sleep? According to the study, you need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to see positive effects.
If you have been inactive for a while, your body will need time to get back into the groove. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on your fitness level and previous exercise habits. The good news is that the benefits of regular cardio exercises will start to be noticed fairly quickly!
In another study to assess the effects of aerobic exercise on sleep quality in older adults with chronic insomnia, researchers found that regular cardiovascular exercise can promote better sleep, boost mood, and improve the general quality of life in older adults.
But take note that exercising less than 2 hours before bedtime may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Also See, How To Get Better Sleep?
9. It’s safe for most people
Many people are interested in working out and staying healthy but are hesitant to start because they worry that the workout routine might be too hard for them. However, there are some safe workouts that are appropriate for most people, and cardiovascular exercise is one of them.
That said, most people can safely do cardio workouts without consulting a doctor. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardio exercises are one of the most popular forms of exercise, and they can help you improve your overall health and fitness.
The AHA recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week (such as biking or walking) to help reduce your risk of heart disease. However, if you have any medical conditions that preclude you from engaging in regular aerobic activity (such as a heart condition), be sure to speak with your doctor before starting a cardio workout routine.
Cardiovascular exercises like walking, cycling, or jogging are among the best activities for people of all ages, including the old and those with chronic conditions.
10. Improves diabetes
Exercise has a number of effects on blood sugar, including reducing glucose levels after eating and increasing insulin sensitivity. This means that the body is better able to use blood sugar for energy. Additionally, regular exercise can help prevent or manage diabetes.
Can people with diabetes perform cardiovascular exercises?
Yes, people with diabetes can perform cardiovascular exercise. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with diabetes engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes every day to help control their blood sugar levels. Cardiovascular exercise also has other health benefits, such as reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Tips for how to monitor your blood sugar while exercising
Keeping track of blood sugar while exercising can be a challenge, but it’s important to do so to ensure you’re getting the most out of your workout. Here are a few tips for monitoring your blood sugar while working out:
-Monitor your blood sugar before and after exercise to compare the results. This will help you determine whether or not your exercise is causing your blood sugar levels to rise or fall.
-Monitor your blood sugar throughout the day if you’re exercising regularly. This will help you better understand how your body responds to exercise and make adjustments as needed.
-If you experience signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), such as shakiness, dizziness, confusion, or fainting, stop exercising and consult a healthcare professional.
11. Promotes better mental health
Mental health is something that affects everyone in some way or another, and a growing body of research suggests cardiovascular exercise can be beneficial for mental health.
One recent study looked at the effects of aerobic exercise on mental health in adults. The study found that adults who exercised had improved mental health scores, including decreases in anxiety and depression symptoms.
One possible explanation is that aerobic exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that have pain-relieving properties. They play an important role in the brain’s emotional response system. In other words, aerobic exercise may help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
It’s important to note that this research is preliminary and more research is needed to confirm these findings. However, if you are looking for ways to improve your mental health, incorporating cardiovascular exercise into your routine might be a good way to start.
Also, cardiovascular exercise promotes better mental health by improving levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that influences your mood and feelings.
Cardiovascular exercise has also been linked to improved cognitive function. This is because it helps improve your brain’s ability to process information and stay alert. This can further reduce the risk of developing dementia and other cognitive disorders.
Cardiovascular exercise is a workout that increases your heart rate and increases oxygenated blood flow throughout the body.
It offers numerous health benefits, including promoting cardiovascular health, aiding weight loss, preventing inflammation, promoting better sleep, regulating blood glucose, and promoting brain function.
To benefit from this exercise, experts recommend aiming at 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.
Always start slow and keep building your fitness journey. Also, keep in mind that consistency is key to experiencing the potential benefits.
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