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Cardio Exercise: Good For More Than Your Heart Health

    Cardio Exercise: Good For More Than Your Heart Health

    Heart health is a huge aspect of our overall wellness, and one way to keep our heart healthy is through cardio exercise. You already know that “cardio” or aerobic exercise is good for your heart because it lowers your resting pulse rate and strengthens your heart muscle and blood vessels. According to research, cardiovascular exercise must be performed for at least 30 minutes, three times per week. This can help achieve improvement in aerobic capacity in between 8 and 12 weeks. But, what are the other benefits of cardio exercise? Find out here.

    It Helps Reduce Your Sugar Levels

    Generally, a healthy adult should aim to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio weekly. The type and duration of workout may differ if you have diabetes, but the overall consensus is that exercise improves insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar (glucose) levels. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, is likewise beneficial for those with diabetes. However, combining the two seems to be the most effective. Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.

    Cardio Exercise Helps Boost Your Mood

    Cardio can increase the levels of certain neurotransmitters, like glutamate, GABA, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which may be low in people with depression. Because aerobic exercise, like running, appears to enlarge your hippocampus, an area of your brain that regulates emotion, and slow the breakdown of brain cells, it may help ease depression and anxiety well enough that your doctor or therapist may recommend it as a part of your treatment. If they do, stick with it regularly to reap the benefits.

    It Helps Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep

    For those with insomnia, regular cardio exercise, might improve sleep quality and reduce excessive daytime drowsiness. Moreover, moderate-intensity aerobic activities may diminish the severity of sleep-disordered breathing conditions, such obstructive sleep apnea.

    People who exercise more tend to get more of the deep “slow wave” sleep that helps renew the brain and body. But try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime because it can disrupt sleep for some people. While the exact brain effects of cardio aren’t always clear, it is known that it can help you maintain a level mood, wind down at bedtime, and set up a healthy sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).

    It Can Help Reduce the Risk of Dementia

    Did you know that people who move more often might have lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia? Human studies have shown that exercise has big effects on executive function, working memory (WM), and spatial memory. Furthermore, exercise appears to reduce the risk of conditions that increase the likelihood of developing dementia, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

    It Can Help Improve Learning

    According to reports, physical activity causes the production of proteins in the brain that can enhance cognitive function and memory. Hence, with physical activity (cardio exercise and resistance training), you may help protect your neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to adapt when you learn and do new things,

    Cardio Exercise Can Relieve Arthritic Discomfort

    You can stave off the progression of arthritis with an exercise routine appropriate for your condition. Your heart gets fitter when you walk, swim, or row a boat, and when you combine physical activity with a healthy diet, you can lose extra pounds, which relieves pressure on your knees.

    It Also Improves Lung Health

    Cardio exercise, like walking, running, or jumping rope, give your heart and lungs the workout they need to function effectively. Even if you have a lung issue, regular aerobic activity can help you breathe easier. Your lungs can benefit from both aerobic and muscle-strengthening workouts. A jog or a game of tennis will do if going to the gym isn’t your thing. Just remember to talk to your doctor about your workout plan if you already have respiratory problems.

    Cardio Exercise May Help Flush Germs

    Scientists are still investigating how exercise strengthens the immune system, your body’s line of defense against germs. For now, experts believe that regular aerobic exercise may help flush out viruses and bacteria from the lungs. Also, reports say raised body temperature as a result of physical activity can help prevent germ growth. Finally, regular exercise can help manage stress, which, when experienced in prolonged period, can contribute to illnesses.

    It Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

    After 3-6 months of regular exercise, you might start to notice changes in your LDL or bad cholesterol level. It usually takes longer to notice changes in your HDL or good level. Exercise appears to raise your HDL while simultaneously lowering your LDL.

    This is crucial because your risk of having atherosclerosis, which can result in a heart attack or stroke, is increased by unhealthy cholesterol levels. Consult your doctor before starting a fitness routine if you’re already ill or haven’t worked out in a while.

    Your Next Steps

    One of the best strategies to develop cardiovascular fitness, according to experts, is to engage in cardio exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, several times per week.

    Go for a 30-minute walk or sign up for a 30-minute online fitness session to get your blood flowing. The length of each session matters; you might achieve some of the best benefits for the heart in exercise periods that last a little bit longer (so long as you’re not pushing yourself too hard). The general rule is to have 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. But, of course, if you have an existing health condition, or are no longer accustomed to being physically active, please consult your doctor first.

    Finally, remember that cardio exercise is not just good for heart health – it’s also great for your overall wellness!


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    Training for Cardiovascular Fitness, https://www.ucdenver.edu/docs/librariesprovider65/clinical-services/sports-medicine/training-for-cardiovascular-fitness.pdf, Accessed August 30, 2022

    Get Active!, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html, Accessed August 30, 2022

    How much should the average adult exercise every day?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916#:~:text=For%20most%20healthy%20adults%2C%20the,of%20moderate%20and%20vigorous%20activity., Accessed August 30, 2022

    The importance of exercise when you have diabetes, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-exercise-when-you-have-diabetes, Accessed August 30, 2022

    Exercise and immunity, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm, Accessed August 30, 2022

    Exercise plasma boosts memory and dampens brain inflammation via clusterin, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04183-x, August 31, 2022

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    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel Updated 2 weeks agoMedically reviewed by Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC
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