Aerobics and cardio exercise (running, swimming, cycling type activity) is all about looking after your heart and lungs, as well as improving your energy levels and stamina. Your heart is working all day every day circulating blood and nutrients to your body. By the time you reach the age of 60 your heart will have beat an incredible 2.2 billion times! But don’t worry, your heart is a very very specialised muscle, designed just for the job. Also, like all other muscles, it responds and adapts to stimuli placed upon it – so give it challenging exercise and it will get stronger and healthier.
AFTER BURN – use calories long after you workout. Your heart and lungs have a big influence on your metabolic rate – how much energy you use during the day. After a good quality workout your metabolism remains high for up to 16 hours afterwards as your body replenishes its oxygen and fuel stores. During this time you are operating predominantly on the oxygen energy system. What fuel does this energy system use? Glycogen and FAT. This means that after a reasonably challenging CV session you will continue burning lots of fat for a good while afterwards.
Improve mental awareness: many studies have linked alertness and productivity with levels of physical fitness. One study by a leading American university showed that a 22% increase in fitness resulted in a 70% increase in decision-making skills and mental alertness.
Ultimate stress management: we are surrounded daily by negative stress. Even short bouts of exercise produce endorphins (naturally occurring hormones) which enhance feelings of positivity and well-being. These endorphins are more powerful than any man made drug in the control of stress and depression. They are also totally legal! If you feel particularly clear headed , energetic and positive, it’s very likely that you have been training hard and are swimming in endorphins.
Reduce the risk of Heart Attack and Stroke: stay aerobically fit and you are 6 times less likely to die prematurely from clogged arteries, heart attack and stroke.
Burn High Levels of Fat: while resistance training makes your muscles more effective at using fat and toned muscles will push up your metabolism, during moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise you use up to 10 times as much fat than when at rest. Combine the two for permanent weight loss and toning.
It’s a myth that exercising slowly burns more fat – like a super advanced hybrid car, we have 3 methods of developing energy: we know that the highest percentage of fat is used by the oxygen system (more on this later), which operates up to 60% of maximum effort. So to an extent this statement is true – exercising slowly will burn a higher percentage of fat, which is fine if you have 5 hours a day to jog slowly. However, a higher intensity workout will always burn more fat-not only do you have to add afterburn, but a higher number of calories from fat will be used. Mathematically, although you will burn a higher percentage of fat at a lower intensity of exercise, when exercising at higher rates it is a lower percentage but of a much higher total! So you will burn more overall calories and also more calories from fat when gunning it a bit. Don’t kill yourself, but you need to be breathless and sweaty before you start to get the full benefits.