Magic cardio: 10 reasons to make your heart beat faster
1. Cardio keeps your muscles toned
Cardio exercise won’t help you build muscle, but if you do it often and intensely enough, you can keep your muscles toned and slightly increase their volume. A review of 14 scientific studies showed that if you do moderate to vigorous cardio for 45 minutes, four days a week, you can increase your leg muscle size by 5-6%.
2. aerobic exercise improves heart and lung health
Aerobic exercise, especially swimming, helps your body use oxygen more efficiently. Cardio exercise lowers your resting heart rate and breathing rate, indicating cardiovascular health.
A 2008 study compared blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other measures of heart health in 46,000 people who swim, run, walk and lead sedentary lifestyles. Researchers found that regularly exercising runners and swimmers had the best heart health scores.
3. Cardio reduces heart muscle stiffness
As people age, many people move less, which increases the stiffness of the heart muscles, including the left chambers, a muscle that plays a key role in supplying the body with fresh, oxygenated blood.
A 2017 study by Erin J. Howden found that regular cardio exercise can help prevent and even reverse an increase in heart muscle stiffness.
Study participants were divided into two groups. One group was supervised by scientists and did cardio exercises 4-5 days a week, while the other group did asanas and balance exercises. After two years, people in the first group showed significant improvements in heart function.
4. Cardio has a positive effect on bowel function
A small 2017 study showed that cardio exercise can change gut microflora regardless of diet or other factors. Test subjects exercised three to five times a week for six weeks, after which they had increased amounts of butyric acid, which reduces inflammation and oxidative stress and increases local immunity.
5. Cardio lowers bad cholesterol
A review of 13 scientific studies found that aerobic exercise is associated with lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. LDL directly affects the formation of atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart attack.
However, cardio exercise increases levels of good cholesterol, or high-density lipoproteins, which recycle and remove fats from the body, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
6. Aerobic exercise protects against diabetes
A Chinese study found that even small cardio exercise (20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, or 5 minutes of very vigorous exercise 1-2 times a day) almost halves the risk of diabetes.
Even one cardio workout increases insulin activity and glucose tolerance by more than 24 hours, and one week of exercise increases the entire body’s insulin sensitivity.
7. Cardio improves skin health
A study by scientists at McMaster University found that people who exercise regularly after age 40 have better skin than their less mobile peers. The overall skin condition of active participants resembles that of people in their twenties or thirties.
It is not yet clear how exercise affects skin health, but scientists found that after exercising, the subjects had increased levels of interleukin-15, a cytokine that is extremely important for cellular health.
8. Cardio boosts mood
According to Harvard Medical School, aerobic exercise is both toning and relaxing and helps fight depression and stress.
It is possible that the positive effect of cardio exercise on a person’s well-being and mood is due to their ability to reduce stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
9. Exercise helps combat symptoms of depression
Cardio not only improves mood in healthy people, but also helps those with depression. In a 2001 pilot study, people with varying degrees of depression walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes for 10 days. Researchers found that the activity helped significantly reduce symptoms of depression.
10. Cardio protects the brain from age-related changes
Often before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, older adults suffer from moderate cognitive impairment (MCI), in which memory, language skills, thinking and judgment are impaired.
In a recent study, scientists tested the effects of physical activity on people between the ages of 60 and 88 suffering from UCD. The subjects walked 30 minutes a day for 12 weeks. As a result, they had better nerve connections in many areas of the brain. Researchers speculated that this may increase cognitive reserve — the brain’s ability to make new nerve connections.
Another study of older adults with CCH found that aerobic exercise was associated with an increase in the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. In the study, 86 women with CCH, ages 70 to 80, did either aerobic (walking or swimming) or strength training exercises twice a week for six months. As a result, the women who did aerobic exercise had significantly increased hippocampal volume. However, scientists have not yet established how much of an effect this has on cognitive ability.
Even if you prefer strength training, do not neglect cardio exercise: it will help you maintain the health and youthfulness of the whole body. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight, try starting with walking or swimming.