For an activity to qualify as aerobic, two factors must be present. First, the activity must last at least 20 minutes. Second, you have to increase your heart rate to at least 70% of your maximum rate during the 20 minutes.
Aerobic exercise conditions the heart and lungs by increasing the oxygen available to the body and by enabling the heart to use oxygen more efficiently.
Additional Benefits of Aerobic Exercise: In addition to cardiovascular benefits, other benefits of aerobic exercise include:
- Control of body fat: Aerobic exercise in conjunction with strength training and a proper diet will reduce body fat.
- Increased resistance to fatigue and extra energy
- Toned muscles and increased lean body mass
- Decreased tension and aid in sleeping
- Increased general stamina
- Psychological benefits: Exercise improves mood, reduces depression and anxiety.
- Keep excess pounds at bay: Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps you lose weight — and keep it off.
- Increase your stamina: Aerobic exercise may make you tired in the short term. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue.
- Ward off viral illnesses: Aerobic exercise activates your immune system. This leaves you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.
- Reduce health risks: Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Manage chronic conditions: Aerobic exercise helps lower high blood pressure and control blood sugar. If you’ve had a heart attack, aerobic exercise helps prevent subsequent attacks.
- Strengthen your heart: A stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast. A stronger heart also pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body.
- Keep your arteries clear: Aerobic exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol. The potential result? Less buildup of plaques in your arteries.
- Boost your mood: Aerobic exercise can ease the gloominess of depression, reduce the tension associated with anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Stay active and independent as you get older: Aerobic exercise keeps your muscles strong, which can help you maintain mobility as you get older. Aerobic exercise also keeps your mind sharp. At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week seems to reduce cognitive decline in older adults.
- Live longer: People who participate in regular aerobic exercise appear to live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly.