From heart health to less pain, cardio can make a real difference to your health.

Feeling lethargic, worn out, and sleepy? Simply lacking the energy to complete your tasks? Go for a walk instead of drinking more coffee or sleeping in.

Whether you refer to it as aerobic, cardiovascular, or endurance exercise, you’re likely referring to the same thing: raising your heart rate and promoting the flow of oxygen-rich blood in order to increase your cardiorespiratory fitness. However, it has advantages beyond simply your heart.

Regular aerobic activity can boost your resting blood pressure and heart rate and, when combined with a heart-healthy lifestyle, can also reduce the amount of stress your heart has to endure throughout the day. It can also help you lower your LDL cholesterol, cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, boost your immune system, and lower your blood pressure.

Brisk walking. Cycling. Running. And Swimming. There are countless cardiovascular workouts you can do to increase your overall quality of life. Even if you don’t find physical activity enjoyable, the major health benefits of cardio may influence you to start working out.

Improves cardiovascular health

The American Heart Association and the majority of physicians advise persons with heart disease or at risk for developing it to engage in aerobic exercise. This is due to the fact that exercise makes your heart stronger and increases the effectiveness of its blood-pump function.

By increasing “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, cardiovascular exercise can also help lower blood pressure and keep your arteries clear.

Reduces chronic pain

Cardiovascular exercise, particularly low-impact activities like swimming or aqua aerobics, may help you regain muscle function and endurance if you suffer from chronic back pain. Losing weight can also help you exercise, which may relieve your chronic back pain. However, your best option may be to work with your primary care doctor who may refer you to a pain management specialist to reduce the flare-ups and make the pain manageable using nonsurgical therapies if the cause of the pain is unknown.

Improves your mood

Running is one aerobic exercise that can significantly reduce anxiety and sadness, so much so that your doctor or therapist might recommend it as a treatment. One explanation could be that it appears to increase the size of your hippocampus, which controls emotion in the brain, and slows the loss of brain cells. 

Combats health conditions and diseases

Want to lower your blood pressure? Worried about developing a heart disease? Whatever your present weight, exercising increases the “good” cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lowers the bad cholesterol known as triglycerides. Your blood continues to flow normally as a result of these two factors, lowering your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Numerous health issues and difficulties are prevented or managed by regular exercise, including metabolic syndrome, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, arthritis and falls. Additionally, it can help with cognitive development and reduce the risk of dying from any cause.

Great for weight loss and maintaining healthy weight

You might be able to lose weight and keep it off with just aerobic activity. In one study, researchers urged overweight volunteers to continue eating the same amount of food but to exercise for five times a week for ten months, burning between 400 and 600 calories.

Exercise can help sustain weight loss or prevent excessive weight gain. Calorie burn occurs during physical exertion. You burn more calories when you engage in more vigorous exercise. Regular gym visits are important, but don’t stress if you can’t find a significant amount of time to work out every day. Simply increase your daily activity to gain the benefits of exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or work harder at your housework. Key is consistency.

Aids sleep

Cardio helps you sleep better at night, and when you sleep well, you wake up feeling more refreshed and energetic. Working out can also help you maintain good mood, relax before bed, and establish a regular sleep-wake cycle, according to scientific research (circadian rhythm). You can sleep better, deeper, and fall asleep more quickly if you exercise regularly. Just remember to avoid exercising right before bedtime if you don’t want to be too stimulated to sleep.

How often should you engage in cardio to boost your health?

The American Heart Association advises either 75 minutes of intense activity or at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping moderate exercise spread out throughout most days of the week.

Start short and slow if you’ve never exercised before. Increasing your activity is always an option as your fitness level rises. Keep in mind that any movement is preferable to none. Talk with your doctor before starting any new workout regime, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.

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