Google “aerobic” or “cardio” and you’re likely to find a wide range of definitions for this physical activity. If we go with the definition provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, aerobic exercise is “activity in which the body’s large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time.” Basically, it’s movement that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder; activities like jogging, brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, kickboxing, step aerobics, and dancing are all examples of aerobic exercise.
That’s what aerobic exercise is – but why do we need it? What exactly are the benefits of aerobic exercise? Well, it turns out that aerobic activity does your health a lot of good, including the following benefits:
- Improves cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart and lungs
- Aids in weight loss by burning calories
- Reduces stress
- Improves sleep
- Boosts mood
- Increases energy
- Helps control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar
- Increases bone density
- Increases metabolism
- Boosts cognitive ability
- And last, but not least, improves quality of life
If you’re a healthy adult, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week is the minimum you should shoot for (check out the CDC website for more details on their Physical Activity Guidelines). Yes, it can be difficult to find the time if you’ve got a busy schedule (as do most of us these days!), but your health depends on it, so get up a bit earlier in the morning if you have to. And be sure to pick an activity you’ll enjoy – or at least not dread – and pretty soon you’ll be breaking a sweat and reaping the benefits of aerobic exercise on a regular basis.