The Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

Aerobic exercise pumps oxygenated blood from the heart to working muscles. To accomplish that, it stimulates the heart and breathing rates throughout your exercise session. As a rule aerobic exercise can be light-to-medium intensity activities that can be performed for extended periods of time, such as walking, jogging or biking. Whatever your age, weight or athletic ability, aerobic activity is a health booster that gains efficiency as your body adapts and gets stronger and fitter!

What are the benefits offered by aerobic exercise?

Reduces Fat: A study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism found that vigorous aerobic exercise such as jogging or brisk walking beats weight or resistance training for reducing belly and visceral fat.

Increases Stamina: Increased stamina improves your overall physical health and the power to endure disease, fatigue, and illness.

Protects the Brain: A new study from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System finds that regular aerobic exercise can protect the brain and even improve cognitive performance in older adults showing signs of mental decline. It’s important to note that the study found that memory gains may take 6 months or longer to emerge.

Boosts the Immune System: Aerobic exercise activates your immune system. This leaves you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu. Aerobic exercise may accomplish this by flushing bacteria out from the lungs, and may even flush out cancer-causing cells by increasing output of wastes, such as urine and sweat. It also sends antibodies and white blood cells through the body at a faster rate, allowing them to detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. Additionally, the temporary rise in body temperature may inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively.

Strengthens Bones: In a new study, step aerobics offered the greatest gains in leg, spine, and heel bone density, while hip bones health was heightened most with weight training.

Reduces Health Risks: Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.

Strengthens the Heart: Regular aerobic exercise increases the heart’s efficiency leading to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. When a person is aerobically active, more capillaries develop as the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between blood and cells increases. If for any reason an artery is damaged or blood flow is blocked, the blood can easily be rerouted to deliver the necessary oxygen.

Increases Good Cholesterol, Burns the Bad: Research shows that moderate aerobic exercise increases the number of HDLs in the bloodstream and reduces the number of LDLs by increasing lipid metabolism. Like fat, cholesterol is a lipid that can be oxidized, or broken down, for energy.

Supports Mental Health: Aerobic exercise relieves depression, and promotes relaxation. Exercise also slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Remember, if you’ve been inactive for a long time or if you have a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before you start.  Begin slowly and build each day.Try walking five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening and add a few minutes each day. Pick up the pace and soon you’ll be  enjoying all the benefits of regular aerobic activity!

As always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine!

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Working Hard While You Sleep

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

It’s not surprising that eighty percent of Americans suffer from long-term lack of sleep. When faced with overwork, stress, and tight schedules, sleep is often the first victim of the time budget. Be careful, the results can be harmful to long-term health and reduce your ability to manage day-to-day tasks!

Recent research from the University of Rochester’s medical school shines a new light on the vital role sleep plays in our overall well-being. This research, recently published in the journal Science, found that sleep plays an important role in our brain’s physiological maintenance. Simply put, it cleans out the trash that has accumulated during the day.

Our brains do not use the lymphatic system – the body’s waste removal method. It maintains it’s own system that works with the brain’s blood circulation system and uses cerebral spinal fluid to wash away waste. Additionally, study of mice shows that the brain’s cells shrink during sleep by as much as 60 percent, allowing cerebral spinal fluid flow easily between the cells and flush away waste. This leads researchers to believe that the brain probably has two functional states – processing information while we are awake and cleaning away the material that neurons generate during their normal activity while sleeping.

‘Giving your brain time to clean up’ may not spur you to improve your sleep habits, but there are plenty of proven benefits to a healthy sleep routine.

  • Sharper Memory: Lack of sleep disturbs a person’s ability to focus, learn and consolidate a memory, making it difficult for that information to be recalled at a future date.
  • Longer Lifespan: According to an article published in the journal SLEEP, researchers studied 21,000 twins for 22 years and found that if people slept less than 7 hours a night or more than 8 hours a night, they had an increased risk of death.
  • Lower Inflammation Risks: Researchers surveyed 525 middle-aged adults and found that those who reported six or fewer hours of sleep had higher levels of inflammatory markers. C-reactive protein levels were approximately 25 percent higher than adults who slept between six and nine hours.
  • Improved Performance: A study from Stanford University found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
  • Help Maintaining a Healthy Weight: The Nurses’ Health Study followed roughly 60,000 women for 16 years. At the beginning of the study, all of the women were healthy, and none were obese. After 16 years, women who slept 5 hours or less per night had a 15 percent higher risk of becoming obese and had 30 percent higher risk of gaining 30 pounds over the course of the study compared to women who slept at least 7 hours each night.

Let your brain get to work on it’s other job … and get a good night’s sleep!

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