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There’s no question that exercising regularly can do wonders for your health. Aerobic exercise (like jogging, swimming, and cycling) is vigorous and essential to a healthy lifestyle.
The health benefits you get by exercising regularly include:
Let’s take a closer look at how aerobic exercise can get you on the road to a healthier you.
In regards to cardiovascular disease, the list of studies that show that aerobic exercise prevents or reduces the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is long, but one of the most important is one of the earliest. In a study of more than 13,000 men and women, it was shown that the least fit individuals had much higher rates of cardiovascular disease than fit individuals — in some cases, the risk was twice as high.
Aerobic exercise works in many ways to prevent heart disease. Two of the most important ways it does this is by lowering your blood pressure and allowing your blood vessels to be more compliant - –meaning less stiff and less likely to accumulate fat and clog vessels. Results like these have been proven over and over again.
Aerobic exercise can also help you lose weight and improve insulin resistance which helps with diabetes.
Many studies show that participation in a program of strenuous aerobic exercise is effective for reducing depression.
A Cochrane review of exercise in depression found 39 trials of exercise in 2,326 people with depression. Overall, exercise was beneficial for depression compared with no treatment or other control intervention.
Another study found that running or biking three to five days per week for 12 weeks for approximately 30 minutes per workout reduced depression.
There’s other research that shows regular aerobic exercise improves cognitive performance. This includes a study that found a 12-week aerobic exercise program improved executive function and attention speed in healthy late- to middle-aged adults.
Heart-healthy exercise may increase bone density or at least slow the rate of decrease in both men and women.
Research is clear that physically active men and women have about a 30%-40% reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer. Physically active women also have about a 20%-30% reduction in risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women. And there's some good news for people undergoing cancer treatment: regular exercise reduced fatigue, depression and anxiety in cancer patients.
Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine, but it doesn’t take much to get moving. The hardest part is committing to a plan and sticking with it.
For more information on the updated physical activity guidelines for Americans, check out our guide “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Inside you’ll find more ways to ease yourself into an exercise routine and how hard you should be working out to see results.