Aerobic exercise: what is it and what are its benefits?

Any variant of exercise is good for your health. This is what the World Health Organization tells us, which recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate / vigorous activity during the week. We do know, however, that some movements are more beneficial than others, such as aerobic exercise.

Also known as cardiovascular exercise, is associated with burning fat. Indeed, aerobic activities are often recommended to children and adolescents to promote their growth and development accordingly. As we will see, its attributes also extend to the adult population.

Its positive effects affect the cardiovascular and respiratory system, with multiple disciplines and exercises available for execution. We will talk about some of them, although first we will explain what it consists of, what is its difference with other activities and what happens in your body during an aerobic day.

What is aerobic exercise?

It is known as aerobic exercise to any activity that is practiced at moderate / high intensity for a long period of time. It is the opposite of anaerobic exercises, since these are done in a short time (weight lifting, for example).

Its practice allows vascular conditioning, increased heart rate and respiration. In fact, aerobic It can be translated as 'with oxygen' or 'with respiration'. This is because the intensity of the breath rises to provide fuel in the development of the exercises. Running is the best example.

Contrary to other variants, it is directly related to obtaining muscular endurance, weight loss and strengthening of the heart. Its implementation is not useful to achieve muscle growth.

It may interest you: 5 routines and rope exercises to lose weight

What happens in the body during aerobic exercise?

An aerobic exercise routine involves a series of activities that are performed at a moderate or high intensity. During this time the muscles make repetitive movements, which demands an adjustment from the body to meet this demand.

Two things happen almost in unison: the heart begins to beat faster and breathing quickens. Both changes are related and are essential to maintain intensity for a long time.

Oxygen is one of the fuels that provides your muscles with energy. This is why respiration increases, at the end that the heart pumps more blood to deliver this oxygen to all the extremities. It is a circular process, as the blood returns to the lungs to be charged with oxygen and thus repeat the cycle.

Apart of this, blood vessels dilate to allow more efficient passage of nutrients and electrolytes. Your body also begins to release endorphins to convey a feeling of pleasure and well-being.

The running it is the most representative form of the aerobic. When we run, the heart rate and respiratory rate increase.

Do not stop reading: Isotonic exercises and isometric exercises: what are their differences?

What are the benefits of aerobic exercise?

The effects of aerobic exercise are perceived in the short and medium term. The different disciplines allow the type of activity practiced to vary and specialized equipment is not always necessary.

1. Improves cardiorespiratory performance

This translates into a reduction in heart rate at rest, an increase in stroke volume, a more efficient use of oxygen, and an increase in overall aerobic power. These benefits are short-term and they do not demand daily training.

Proof of this is a study carried out with 22 men, under a training regimen of 3 times a week for 6 consecutive weeks. The 45-minute sessions with aerobic exercises reported a significant improvement in cardiorespiratory performance, which demonstrates its effectiveness.

2. Lowers blood pressure

It is estimated that in the world there are more than 1.130 million people with high blood pressure. There are many ways to prevent and treat it, including regular exercise.

It has been shown that aerobic exercise is effective in reducing stress levels in children, youth, and adults to healthy spectra after a 60 minute low intensity workout.

The hypotensive effect that occurs is beneficial in risk groups or as a comprehensive and complementary treatment for those who already suffer from it. Its efficacy has also been reported in obtaining a decrease in diastolic blood pressure.

3. Can prevent or complement diabetes treatment

There is a relationship between physical exercise and diabetes control. If it is accompanied by a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and a pharmacological approach, aerobic routines can keep this condition under control.

This is demonstrated by several studies and investigations, which also support that a medium intensity day is as beneficial as one with a high spectrum. This is interesting, especially for those who are overweight or are not fans of sports.

4. Avoid metabolic syndrome

The metabolic syndrome brings together a series of disorders that they increase the chances of suffering from complications, like strokes and heart disease. High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, the presence of obesity and insulin resistance are just some of the elements that this syndrome brings together.

Fortunately, we know that aerobic exercise helps to treat and prevent this condition, increasingly common in younger patients. Evidence suggests that, accompanied by a balanced diet, it is much more effective in obtaining short- and medium-term results.

5. Reduces levels of depression and anxiety

High, medium and low intensity exercises are beneficial in reducing anxiety levels, indicating that can be used as an adjunct to conventional treatment (psychological support and drugs). This has been made known to us by various studies.

On the other hand, we also know that it is effective in controlling depression, with a decrease in acute episodes in a short period of time. Research published in 2001 showed a reduction in depression levels from 19.5 to 13 on the Hamilton scale just after 10 days of aerobic activities.

6. Helps control weight

By 2016, and according to data from the World Health Organization, there were 1.9 billion adults over 18 years of age who were overweight. Body weight control depends on several factors, among which we find diet and physical activity. Although any variant is beneficial, those that dabble in aerobic power are more effective for weight loss.

This is supported by studies and research, so that a scheduled weekly routine is useful to maintain or reduce body weight. Regarding the latter, a trial published in the Archives of Cardiology of Mexico reported a decrease of 7.7 kilograms (on average) after 12 weeks of aerobic activity in obese patients.

These are just some of the benefits, to which we also add that it facilitates falling asleep. By focusing on strenuous activities for a long time, the body will require a period of rest to recover. In this way, it can be of great benefit to those who suffer from insomnia.

The benefits of aerobic exercise are manifold. Even mental health benefits from activity.

Examples of aerobic exercises

You already know what happens in the body when you do aerobic activity: your heart rate rises and your breathing quickens. Based on this, we can determine the following disciplines that most strongly concentrate these requirements:

  • Athletics.
  • Cycling.
  • Football.
  • Swimming.
  • Rowing.
  • Tennis.

Jump rope, run or jog, dance, do spinning and known as aerobic routines are other examples. The latter are very popular in some gyms, although they can also be done at home by following tutorials.

In short, any activity that raises the heart rate, demands a greater volume of breathing and performed for more than 30 minutes is considered aerobic.

There are several criteria that you must remember before starting your practice. Especially if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle for a long time. The first of these is the aerobic threshold, which is calculated by subtracting your age from 220 if you are a man or 226 if you are a woman. The value obtained will be your maximum heart rate (MHR).

The aerobic threshold is considered between 60% and 80% of your FCM. Your heart rate must be in this spectrum to receive the benefits presented above.

Latest recommendations to start with aerobic exercise

Apart from all of the above and calculating your maximum heart rate, you should also consider the following:

  • Take a comprehensive medical assessment to corroborate the state of your health and especially of your heart.
  • Consult with your specialist if you suffer from any special pathological condition.
  • Don't forget to hydrate yourself properly before, during and after each session.
  • Increase the level of demand based on your physical condition.
  • In case you don't feel comfortable with some activity, don't stick to it; try another alternative.
  • Do a warm up before and after the routine.
  • Make sure to wear appropriate clothing for the occasion. This includes everything from footwear to undergarments.
  • Control your breathing to avoid panting.

By last, do not forget to include the sessions at least three times a week in your agenda. These must be at least 30 minutes and must have a rest time between each one.