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What is aerobic exercise and why do you need it?
There is so much information about weight loss, fitness and exercise at the beginning of each year that it is hard to know what you should do. As an example, today I had two email alerts for exercise. The first one said that aerobic exercise is a must for weight loss. The second one said not to do aerobic exercise for weight loss but rather do strength training. So which is correct?
They both are. Different exercises are good for our bodies in different ways. What is aerobic exercise? Aerobic exercise also know as cardio stimulates and strengthens the lungs which improves how the body uses oxygen. I think we would all agree that is pretty important. Running, biking, rowing and fitness classes such as Zumba all are aerobic.
You know you’re doing aerobic exercise when your heart is pumping and your breathing has increased. Be careful though. You want to be able to carry on a conversation when doing aerobic exercise. If you are not able to talk, your exercise is too hard. It’s time to back it off a little.
One of the reasons so many prefer aerobic exercise/cardio is that it will burn calories that will help you first lose weight, then maintain that weight loss. But there are the many benefits of aerobic exercise including:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- May lower blood pressure.
- May help you survive a heart attack.
- Increases the good (HDL) cholesterol.
- Decrease blood triglycerides.
- Improves bone density which is increasingly important as we age.
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers.
- Reduces symptoms of depression.
- Reduces the pain and swelling of arthritis.
- Reduces body fat.
- Helps maintain healthy weight.
Pretty significant list of benefits to doing cardio right? So how much aerobic exercise do we need to see these benefits? Actually it does not take that much to see results. The Surgeon General recommends “30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days per week to improve health and fitness.”
Notice the word ACCUMULATED. That means you can do three, 10 minute sessions of exercise throughout the day or one 30 minute workout which makes it easier to fit in our busy lives.
So how do you start? The best thing you can do is to select something you like to do. If you work eight hours per day and have 30 minute drive both ways to work, have to pick up the kids from school, get homework done, dinner on the table then try to squeeze in 30 minutes on a stationary bike that you hate to ride, chances are you will not stick with it. Who would? You’re tired and have 25 more things on your to do list before you go to sleep.
But if you strive for three, 10 minute sessions throughout the day you are more likely to make it happen. As an example, take a walk on lunch. Walk five minutes out then turn around and walk back to your office or place of work. That is one 10 minute session. After you pick the kids up and before you start on homework and dinner, take the kids outside and play or maybe take the dog for a walk.
Before you know it, you have squeezed 30 minutes of aerobic exercise into your day. This is the year to make your health and wellness a priority. You CAN do it!
To your health,