There’s no doubt about it: Getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can help you live longer and healthier. If you’re inactive now, it’s never too late to start. You’ll notice some improvements immediately, while others take longer to achieve. Here are some benefits you can expect.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Watch your weight
Here’s how: Burning calories helps you shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight. If you also eat a healthy diet, you may start to lose weight within your first week of a regular routine.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Slash stress
Here’s how: Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals that produce feelings of well-being. A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can calm you down after a stressful workday.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Improve cholesterol
Here’s how: Regular exercise increases the high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol and decreases the low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol in your blood.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Prevent heart attack and stroke
Here’s how: Improved cholesterol means less plaque buildup in your arteries, reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. A higher fitness level can even help prevent a second heart attack. The heart is a muscle—exercise will make it stronger.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Lower blood pressure
Here’s how: A stronger heart pumps blood with less effort. The less your heart must work, the less the force that’s exerted on your blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Bring on the “happy”
Here’s how: Aerobic exercise can help balance brain chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine, ease symptoms of depression and reduce feelings of anxiety. A single bout of exercise—a 30 minute walk—can lift the mood of patients suffering from a major depressive disorder, according to research.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Keep diabetes at bay
Here’s how: Since exercise helps with weight control, it reduces your risk of obesity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you already have type 2 diabetes, regular exercise helps insulin work better and control blood sugar.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Build bone strength
Here’s how: Weight-bearing exercises like walking preserve bone mass and may even increase bone density, reducing your risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Reduce cancer risk
Here’s how: Regular activity lowers your long-term risk of colon, endometrial and breast cancers.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Sleep better
Here’s how: Moderate exercise at least three hours before bedtime can help you relax and sleep better—a benefit you’ll notice immediately.
Aerobic exercise can help you: Breathe easier
Here’s how: By making your lungs fitter, you increase the amount of oxygen you can take in and deliver to the rest of your body.