PHOTO: Credit: Shutterstock / Pressmaster

Each year, getting in shape and exercising more typically make people’s top five New Year’s resolutions. There’s good reason for that, as exercise is key to enjoying many physical and mental health benefits. Whether you want to trim a few pounds or simply feel better, increasing your cardio sessions can help.

Of course, penciling in extra aerobic classes or treadmill sprint sessions isn’t the only way to accomplish your fitness goals. You don’t have to become a gym rat to put movement into your day or realize the benefits of cardio. Something as easy as taking the dog — or yourself — for a brisk walk can do the trick. Here are three reasons you should incorporate more aerobic exercise into your life.

1. You Can Make It Fun

With so many different cardio options, anyone can find something they enjoy. You’re not limited to online aerobics videos or getting on the elliptical machine. While these forms of exercise can be beneficial, there are plenty of opportunities to mix things up. Outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, beach volleyball, and getting out on the water with paddle boards count as cardio.

Boredom is one of the main reasons many people stop exercising, but you don’t have to be its victim. There’s no rule saying you have to stick to 45 minutes on the treadmill five days a week. In fact, that routine will probably quash your fitness enthusiasm within a week or two. Instead, try an exercise regimen that varies indoor swimming with basketball or tennis and a class at the gym.

A combination of outdoor, indoor, solo, and group cardio exercises will definitely break up the monotony. Plus, you can customize and change up your routine as you go. Experiment with different workout intensities and options you haven’t tried before.

Maybe now is the time to satisfy your curiosity about hot yoga or indoor rock climbing. You can also try learning new moves on familiar equipment like treadmills. Consult trainers or watch online videos for inspiration.

2. You’ll Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Health Conditions

Besides the likelihood that you’ll look and feel better, cardio can reduce your risk for several chronic health conditions. Among these conditions are cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Compared to strength training, aerobic exercise can help control many of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease. Cardio lowers systemic inflammation, keeps your blood pressure in check, and reduces stress hormones.

Consistently following an exercise routine that includes aerobics also enables your heart to perform better. As you build up your endurance, your heart starts to use oxygen more efficiently. Simply put, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you alive. Your doctor may also notice a decrease in your triglycerides and an increase in your HDL or “good” cholesterol. High triglyceride levels can cause your arteries to thicken, increasing your chance of heart disease.

To reduce your risk of heart disease and other conditions, aim for 30 minutes of cardio five days a week. If you up the intensity of your workouts, you can reduce the frequency to three days weekly.

High-intensity aerobic exercises include running and high-intensity interval training. For instance, you could sprint or walk on a high incline for 10 minutes. Follow this with two minutes of jogging or walking on a low incline. Then repeat the cycle until you reach 30 minutes.

3. You Can Boost Your Mood and Energy

Aerobic exercise is known to release endorphins from your brain. These hormones can elevate your mood and naturally reduce pain.

It’s not a coincidence when you notice that you feel better and more energized after a workout. While cardio can be strenuous, you’ll experience a little lift after about 15 to 20 minutes of steady activity. This is when your brain starts to send out those endorphins, which can also motivate you to finish your workout.

Over time, increasing your endorphin levels from aerobic exercise can bring you sustained energy. You may realize you don’t feel as tired or drained during the day. It’s easier to power through your assignments at work and handle your responsibilities around the house. And you might notice you’re getting better sleep and feeling more rested when the alarm goes off.

Elevated endorphins can also make you feel happier and less anxious. Increased aerobic exercise is linked to reduced symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. While cardio alone is not a cure for these conditions, it may fit into an overall treatment plan. Aerobic exercise also boosts brain activity in other ways, helping to keep functions like memory and thinking skills on par.

Get Moving

Cardio is one of the top ways to improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Getting more exercise can also help prevent many chronic health conditions or keep them from becoming worse. Overall, aerobic exercise allows your mind and body to work together so you can handle sources of stress more effectively.

Starting or ramping up a workout routine doesn’t have to be a chore or lead to boredom. Thanks to the variety of fitness activities out there, you can start slow and work up to high-intensity training sessions. With indoor and outdoor exercise options, you’ll discover new ways of getting in some cardio and reaping its benefits.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.