Want to lose weight? Hit the gym. But, as it turns out, weight loss is not the only benefit of working out.
Even as the cardio vs. strength training contentious debate rages on, a debate to which no middle ground has been reached just yet, it’s important for us to look at workouts as more than fat-burners.
Instead of looking at the effectiveness of either workout regimen, today we look at some of the proven health benefits of cardio (beyond losing weight), a form of exercise feted as an all-natural mood-booster, the secret to a good memory, and the effective drug against the effects of aging on the brain.
Cardio or aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise that leaves your heart pumping and the sweat flowing. And according to the wealth of research recently conducted on the effects of these exercises, cardio carries tremendous health benefits to the body and brain. In an article published in the Harvard Medical School blog, aerobic exercise is the key to your heart and brain health.
So, how exactly is cardio a boon for your body?
It’s an excellent mood lifter
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they’re feeling low and stressed is a pint or even a trip to Grasscity, UK’s leading online headshop for the perfect boost bong. And you cannot blame them – they experience great relaxation after. But, what if you’d supplement/ alternate this with a good run or any other cardio exercise?
Aerobic exercises carry a unique ability to relax and exhilarate while providing you with just the right amount of stimulation to calm you. It dissipates stress and counters depression. How? A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that aerobic workouts reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, the fight/ flight hormone. Therefore, a swim or a run could be all you need to feel good – these activities boost blood flow by providing the brain with oxygen and fresh energy.
It lowers your risk of dementia
A study that was recently published in the Journal of Neurology suggests a powerful link between regular cardio and the reduced risk of dementia. The results of the study suggest that the physically fit middle-aged women had their risk of developing dementia reduced by up to 88%. Remember that dementia is a neurological condition characterized by declined memory and in severe cases, it interferes with your daily life. From this study, there is a strong link between dementia and working out, and it’s good to know that a morning run or an hour on the treadmill could protect your memory significantly.
It protects the immune system
The immune system is your body’s first line of defense against diseases. But as you grow older, the efficacy of this system declines.
But, studies now show that you could protect your immune system from age-related decline by engaging in more aerobic exercises such as cycling. In this study, cyclists reported a higher muscle mass and muscle strength, as well as lower cholesterol and body fat levels compared to sedentary individuals. Also, the athletic adults have younger and healthier immune systems; this was indicated by the health status of the organ, thymus. The thymus is the organ responsible for the synthesis of T-Cells which fight off infections. In case you didn’t know, T-Cell production starts to drop, and the thymus shrinks after age 20.
This study showed that active adult cyclists had younger and healthier thymus organs comparable to the thymus in young individuals.
It’s good for the gut
Cardio, according to a 2018 study, is believed to change the overall makeup of the microbes in your gut. Microbes play a huge role in inflammations, especially when the microbes are out of balance. This study showed that individuals engaging in cardio exercises 3-5 days weekly had an increase in their butyrate concentrations. Butyrate is a fatty acid that makes your gut happy by acting as a tamper to inflammations while producing energy.
These are only a few of the potentially powerful benefits of cardio. The others include toned muscles, improved heart and lung health, improved cholesterol, better management of diabetes, and it works magic on your skin. Also, cardio could reverse some of the damage from normal cellular aging.