There are endless opportunities to engage in cardio (aerobic) exercise in our everyday lives. You could get your heart rate up by using the stairs instead of the elevators, taking a bike ride, coming to UF and using the ellipticals, rowers, etc. By participating in regular aerobic exercise, we are encouraging our hearts to work smarter and not harder. What I mean by this is that when we perform aerobic exercise, our heart is working overtime to pump blood throughout the whole body to the places we need it the most. By conditioning the heart to pump blood more efficiently while exercising, this makes it easier for the heart to pump blood more efficiently while at rest, and as a result your blood pressure will decrease. With exercise and consistent training, the heart will be performing its essential functions while being under a lot less stress in the long run. I also want to highlight a few of the other benefits that come along with aerobic training and exercise in general:
- Lowers the “bad” cholesterol levels – exercise works to eliminate the “bad” cholesterol also known as LDL by increasing the “good” cholesterol in the bloodstream otherwise known as HDL.
- Decreases the risk for type 2 diabetes – exercise can increase insulin sensitivity which means that the body will require less insulin to control its blood sugar levels. The muscles also extract glucose from the blood during exercise. This helps to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high.
- Triggers the release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain – This includes serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, and dopamine. These are some factors contributing toward what helps us to be in a good mood and feel mentally healthy in general.
- Reduces inflammation – exercise causes muscle cells to release a protein called IL-6 which has anti-inflammatory effects
- Decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke
There are so many other benefits to aerobic training, but I just wanted to highlight a few today to get you thinking about how important and beneficial it is to incorporate this into our daily lives.