3 Great Things About Aerobic Exercise

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A while back, if you were searching for information on aerobic (or cardio) exercise, you might have got the impression that it was next to useless for helping fat loss, looking better and enjoying improved overall health. It was trendy to bash it, and almost mock those that did it.

However, that trend seems to have passed (hooray). A few well-respected coaches have posted fantastic articles on the subject of aerobic training and I recommend that all personal training clients do some form of it. I ensure that they get great results from their strength training and circuits in the studio, but for best overall health and results a solid aerobic base underpinning our efforts in the gym is vital. Weights and cardio build different types of fitness.

This post is a quick-fire one that lists three of the main benefits of aerobic exercise; I'll go into more detail about the adaptations it triggers in a different post.

1. The barriers to entry are very low

This is perhaps the best thing about cardio training. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and you can go for a walk. Or a pair of €50 trainers and you can go for a jog or a run. Anything that gets the heart up to a maximum of 180 beats per minute minus your age (e.g. 149 BPM for a 31 year old) will have powerful benefits when done frequently and for long enough. For some, if their fitness is low or non-existent, walking may get their heart rate near or at that target number. For others it could be a jog or a run that helps them hit it. If you live or work locally, there are plenty of amazing places in South Dublin County and Wicklow for runs, it's a spectacular part of the world.

But, and here's the great thing about aerobic exercise, if you are doing some form of activity that has your heart anywhere from about 100 BPM to the maximum suggested by the formula above, you are doing yourself a huge favour. Brisk walks, gardening, a gentle cycle with the family, throwing a frisbee around, housework, playing with the kids, and many more activities all count as some form of aerobic exercise. Some of these are social activities, so there are additional benefits to be gained from them.

To get the benefits of moderate aerobic exercise a minimum of about 3.5 hours per week is necessary. For some this will require a conscious effort, while for others this happens automatically. It really drums home the power of just generally staying active, and the fact that barriers to starting some sort of aerobic exercise are few and far between for the average person is great - almost anyone can jump into some sort of routine straight away.

2. It's great for mental health

Mental health and exercise is a topic I've already covered extensively on the blog. I think that nearly all research that I read covered activities that I've suggested above. Ask any person that goes for frequent jogs and I'd bet that they say it really helps them clear their minds and they feel better as a result. Walks in the countryside are also great for helping decompress after a stressful time. 

3. It improves heart health 

Getting a suitable amount of aerobic exercise done during a week can really benefit heart health over time. The mechanisms behind this I plan on reading up on more and blogging about in the future. However, the heart is everyone's most important muscle and it needs to be suitably trained if it is to stay healthy. This requires physical activity, and a mix of different types of training will yield the best results for heart health.

From what I can gather from all the reading I've done so far, aerobic training seems to make the heart more efficient and weight training makes it stronger (although I'm happy to be corrected on this if someone can summarise it better or more accurately). Put the two together in the correct ratio and you'll have a strong, healthy and efficient ticker for years to come. You'll also benefit in other ways from a mix of aerobic and weight training - done properly and with good nutrition you'll be able to develop fitness that has you ready for any challenge life might throw your way. 

So next time you see someone slamming aerobic exercise...ignore them.