There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to exercise. It’s difficult to know if what you’re doing is having the effect you want on your body, or whether you’re doing a lot of work for little reward. Is it better to do the odd high-level workout, or should you be getting out more frequently but doing less intense activities? Well, the honest truth is that it doesn’t matter, so long as what you’re doing is aerobic exercise.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is described as movement of any form that results in an increased heart rate and causes you to sweat for an extended length of time. It doesn’t focus on any specific part of the body, unlike weight training, and is all about improving the health of your heart and lungs to keep you alive for longer.
This form of exercise, which can be anything from walking and running to cycling or swimming, has also been linked with positive effects for your brain. It’s believed to help people suffering from depression as chemicals released when exercising help to lift your mood. Aerobic exercises reduce the prevalence of natural hormones like adrenaline and increase blood flow, which pumps fresh oxygen to our brains. Scientists also state that it can help to sustain mental capacity for longer, thus reducing age-related decline with things like memory.
Where has the evidence come from?
The question of what form of exercise is better for you has been asked many times over the years. That’s why researchers have been working to try and find out the answer. In a recent study, data was collected that investigated the physical activity and death rates for over 4800 adults. They separated activity into the total amount done per day, and the amount that counted as “bouted” (intense) exercise. The intention here was to find links between the level of activity a person does and the risk of them dying.
What did they find?
Once the results were collected together, these researchers discover that there was no significant difference between participants who did a lot of bouted activity and those who didn’t. Although the former category was getting their hearts pumping a lot more frequently and doing workouts that pushed them to the limits, they weren’t any less likely to suddenly die than people who just walked a lot every day.
Surprisingly, it was found that participants who moved for an hour daily had a better chance of living longer than those who did 30 minutes of intense exercise a day. This might be an unexpected result, but the important thing to note is that all of those people who did any form of exercise were less likely to die than those who did none.
We don’t all have enough time in the day to do the exercise that we want. If you have a full-time job and/or a family to look after, finding the time to work out at the gym or go for a run can seem impossible. Thankfully, you don’t have to do that to reap the major benefits of the exercise. As long as you can find an hour or so throughout the day to get your body moving, it’ll stil pay off.