The health benefits of aerobic exercise, however, don’t stop at the heart, says Dr. Sanchez: “Physical activity can help manage body weight, lower blood pressure, decrease” bad “LDL cholesterol, improve blood sugar control, reduce stress, and improve sleep and memory.”

  • Mental Health Benefits Moving around improves your mood. In a study of 1.2 million people published in The Lancet Psychiatry in September 2019, athletes enjoyed about 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health than non-athletes and aerobic workouts. Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression in adults; helps people manage stress through sleep and mood-regulating benefits, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) .right up arrow
  • Weight Loss Benefits Aerobic exercise burns calories, which in combination with a healthy diet can help you lose excess weight, says Jonesco. Aerobic exercise also tones muscles and improves posture.
  • Fitness Benefits Aerobic exercise (over time) gives you more energy to train. By improving your body’s ability to absorb and use oxygen as fuel, aerobic exercise can increase your stamina, giving you more energy for both work and play, adds Jonesco.
  • Benefits for Bones and Joints Moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise such as running or skipping can help increase bone density in older individuals and for those with osteoarthritis or other rheumatic conditions, notes the Department of Health and of the United States Human Services (HHS).
  • Brain Health Benefits Physical activity has also been linked to a lower risk of dementia and may improve cognition with age.right up arrow

The guidelines say you should do some aerobic exercise most days, and even more if you can.

According to the physical activity guidelines for Americans published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2018 (the most recent), aerobic exercise varies by three components.

Intensity, or how hard a person works to perform the activity, such as moderate (the equivalent of brisk walking) and vigorous (the equivalent of running or jogging)

Frequency or frequency with which a person does aerobic activity

Duration, or how long a person carries out an activity in any one session

According to the HHS, adults should aim to do 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. The HHS notes that it is preferable to spread this activity during the week on most days.

In addition to this aerobic exercise recommendation, the HHS recommends performing balance and stretching activities to improve flexibility and muscle-strengthening workouts two or more times per week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends the same duration of weekly aerobic exercise, according to the recommendations published in 2020.right up arrow

However, data published in the HHS guidelines report shows that nearly 80% of adults do not meet key standards for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity, which contributes to 10% of premature mortality.

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