When you hear the word “aerobic,” you might think of Richard Simmons and the classic aerobics videos that were popular in the 80’s.
While the attire and exercise moves might seem a little silly now, aerobic exercise is extremely beneficial to our bodies.
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Basically, anything that gets your heart pumping, blood flowing, and breathing rate increased…is probably going to be a form of aerobic exercise.
Why do we say “probably?”
The reason is, that when exercising at a high intensity—usually over a determined heart rate based on your age/fitness level—you’ll actually be performing anaerobic exercise. But we’ll cover that type of exercise another day.
Some other types of aerobic activities include:
- Climbing stairs
You know aerobic exercise is “good” for you, but here are 3 reasons why…
1. It helps build a stronger heart
As we get older, our hearts need to work a little harder in order to keep up with physical activity. You may have noticed this: walking up a flight of stairs makes your heart beat a little harder and faster than it did when you were younger.
Performing consistent aerobic exercise helps strengthen your heart (which is a muscle). When this happens, your heart can pump more oxygenated blood to active muscles less frequently.
In other words, a stronger heart can work more efficiently by delivering more blood to the rest of your body in fewer beats.
2. It can increase your number of cellular powerhouses
You might remember from your high school biology class that “mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell.” It’s true; they produce energy in the form of ATP that allows us to keep contracting our muscles during exercise.
Mitochondria function during aerobic exercise, that is when oxygen is present. When you’re feeling out of shape and breathing hard, there’s a good chance that there aren’t enough mitochondria present (side note: this is when aerobic exercise transitions to anaerobic exercise).
The good news is that you can increase the number (and size) of mitochondria in your muscles by performing aerobic exercise consistently every week.
3. It can help prime your body to utilize fat as energy
Our bodies like to break down carbohydrates into glucose to produce ATP as energy because it’s faster and takes less oxygen. But, as we mentioned above, if our bodies aren’t that efficient at utilizing oxygen and producing energy in that state…we get fatigued and have to stop.
Aerobic exercise helps our bodies to adapt to this inefficiency by tapping into our fat stores in order to produce more ATP to keep our muscles working. What’s more, fat results in more ATP than carbs.
Here’s the bottom line
Aerobic exercise is one way to transform your body into a more efficient machine. The benefits of aerobic exercise include a stronger heart, more mitochondria, and the propensity to utilize fat as energy.
You can achieve these health benefits by planning a workout, scheduling a time to go on a job, or by simply running errands all day.
Instead of breathing harder in order to get more oxygen into your system, aerobic exercise trains your body to better utilize the oxygen coming in so you can get more work done.
One great thing about aerobic exercise is that it is a simple way to “get back into shape” because it requires you to work out at a low to moderate intensity.
Want to start to improve your fitness? Begin by planning two 20-30 minute sessions of aerobic exercise this week.