Benefits of cardio workouts
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s almost March and I suppose by now most of us had dumped those vows of getting active and fit in 2020, especially after the Sinulog celebrations with all the parties happening and then being capped off by V-Day a week ago.  Indeed, it needs more than motivation and the dedication of monk to religiously follow exercise programs but we should at least get ourselves moving and do a bit of cardio work as it is good for our bodies.

Aerobic exercise gets our hearts pumping, which in turn strengthens our heart muscles and gradually increasing our aerobic fitness makes us do things longer and faster.  Because they are the authorities in this field, health professionals have outlined the benefits cardio workouts:

•It lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance, especially if combined with weight training.  But if we are on diabetic medication, or any medication, it is always wise to seek our doctor’s opinion before getting into any fitness routine.

•It eases depression and anxiety, thus improving our mood.  Research showed that an area of our brain that manages emotions, the hippocampus, gets enlarged when we do cardio exercises, which slows down the breakdown of brain cells.

•Our body’s sleep-wake cycle, the circadian rhythm, gets better thru cardio.  A good night’s sleep renews our brain and body.  Caution should be taken if exercising close to bedtime as it could disrupt sleep for some people.

•The prefrontal cortex works better because of the increased blood flow.  It is that part of our brain that takes care of our complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior.   We get better in our abilities to organize, interpret and act on stimuli.

•Cardio workouts help us to remember better when we move around, especially for us people above 50.  It lessens our chances of getting dementia and related diseases.  Yes, the so-called senior moments.

•Related to the 50-above age group, cardio helps us to preserve our neuro-plasticity or neuro-elasticity, the ability of our brain to change and adapt continually all thru our lives.  I’m an old carabao learning and doing new things in my adoptive country.

•I’m two years removed from having my 20% discounts and this is one of the perks of getting older.  The major downside to aging are joint pains.  Walking, jogging and biking are one of the more effective ways to ease arthritis pain and inflammation.  In the long run, it gets our heart fitter, making it easier for us to stay active.  Combined with a healthy diet, it helps us lose weight, taking pressure off our knees.

•We breathe better with cardio exercise that even regular brisk walking improves our breathing.

•We live in an environment surrounded with bacteria and viruses, a deadly one named after a crown.  Regular cardio workouts help our bodies fight illness caused by them.  Exercise lets blood circulate around our bodies better, boosting our immune system.

•Our cholesterol levels improve, raising our HDL, the good cholesterol and lowering the LDL, the bad cholesterol.  Unhealthy levels of cholesterol build up plaque in our arteries that could lead to strokes and heart attacks.

So how much exercise do we really need?  Fitness experts recommend a standard of 30 minutes, five times a week.  As our fitness level improves, upping the intensity and length give us more benefits, the best gains coming from exercise periods between 45 minutes to an hour.

It’s never too late to begin exercising.  Let’s check with our docs first then let’s start slow.

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