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Aerobic exercise can improve your physical and mental health.
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Aerobic exercise is more than just women dancing to pop music in leotards -- it's any exercise that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat. Jogging, swimming, brisk walking and playing sports are just a few ways to reap the positive influences of aerobic exercises. Not only do regular cardiovascular workouts help you get in shape, they can lead to better physical and mental health.
Regular aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart and lungs. When you get your heart rate up and take in more oxygen, your heart responds by pumping more blood. Over time, increasing your heart rate during regular aerobic exercise lowers your resting heart rate. Cardio workouts don't just make you look better -- they also get your lungs and the muscles that help you breathe in better shape.
Mental Health Benefits
If you feel happier when you work out, you're not alone. According to an article in "Harvard Men's Health Watch" published in February 2001, aerobic exercise helps fight anxiety and depression by reducing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. As an added bonus, the better body that comes with working out can help boost your self-esteem. If you meet your exercise goals, you'll know you can meet other goals as well, and you're likely to have more strength, stamina and energy to pursue them.
Disease Reduction and Prevention
Aerobic exercise reduces the amount of work your heart has to do and reduces your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. If you're already suffering from these conditions, adding aerobic activity to your daily life can help reverse them. Cardiovascular exercise also helps prevent or reverse diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Those who exercise are at reduced risk of breast and colon cancer and strokes. Because it prevents bone loss, aerobic exercise can also help decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
Aerobic Exercise Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, per week. For added health benefits, work up to 150 minutes of high-intensity exercise, such as running, or 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Try to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at a time if you're a beginner. Exercise is cumulative, however, so if you can only get in 10 minutes at a time, make it add up to at least 30 minutes by the end of the day.