Aerobic exercise has a number of positive effects, from reducing health risks and maintaining healthy body weight, to managing chronic conditions and boosting mood. People who exercise aerobically may actually live longer than those who don't.
Short-term effects of exercise are sometimes easier to notice, but several studies demonstrate that long-term effects exist that are just as desirable and beneficial.
During aerobic exercise, you move the large muscles in your legs, hips and arms, and your body responds quickly by breathing faster and more deeply. Your heartbeat accelerates, increasing blood flow to your muscles and lungs.
Capillaries widen to take more oxygen to your muscles and carry away carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that create an enhanced sense of well-being.
The positive effects of aerobic exercise on the cardiovascular system are well established. It contributes to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, two major risk factors for poor heart health. Harvard Heart Letter also notes that just one hour of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly correlates with lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death from all causes.
Aerobic activity also helps you burn calories and keeps you at a healthy weight. Combining this activity with a healthy diet is especially helpful in keeping weight gain at bay and reducing weight, if needed. A study published in Obesity in 2011 confirmed that after 1 year, dietary changes, exercise addition or a combination of the two strategies improved body weight and body composition in more than 400 post-menopausal women.
Your mind is affected as much as your body by aerobic exercise. It lifts your mood by helping stimulate the release of feel-good brain chemicals. You may also experienced improved self-esteem and cognitive ability as a result of regular aerobic exercise.
A study published in a 2015 edition of Disability of Rehabilitation confirmed that aerobic exercise improved the health of people with major depression. It helped patients feel better about themselves and improved their responses to stress.
The long-term effects of aerobics also include improved daily function. It improves your stamina, so something as simple as climbing a flight of stairs, walking around a park or shopping in the grocery stores is that much easier.
Regular aerobic exercise also maximizes your ability to live independently as you age.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health
- PubMed.gov: Effect of Acute and Long-Term Aerobic Exercise on Arterial Stiffness in the Elderly
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition": Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Dietary Carbohydrate on Energy Expenditure and Body Composition During Weight Reduction in Obese Women
- PubMed.gov: Long-term Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Psychological Outcomes
- Harvard Health Publications: How much exercise is optimal for heart health?