Cardio exercise (or aerobic exercise) is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.
When practiced in this way, examples of cardiovascular/aerobic exercise are medium to long distance running/jogging, swimming, cycling, and walking, according to the first extensive research on aerobic exercise, conducted in the 1960s on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.
Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:
Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression, as well as increased cognitive capacity.
Reducing the risk for diabetes. One meta-analysis has shown, from multiple conducted studies, that aerobic exercise does help lower Hb A1Clevels for type 2 diabetics.
As a result, aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. In addition, high-impact aerobic activities (such as jogging or using a skipping rope) can stimulate bone growth, as well as reduce the risk of osteoporosis for both men and women.
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