When actress and political activist, Jane Fonda, released her first book about fitness in 1981, it remained on the New York Times’ bestseller list for six months and launched a fashion and lifestyle craze that would forever mark the decade. Be it Fonda or Richard Simmons, their cultural ephemera inspired films like Jamie Lee Curtis’ and John Travolta’s Perfect.
Thankfully, the more aggressive neon spandex that came with that lifestyle has long since gone out of style, but the central message they were trying to spread is an important one (and it’s no different from what your gym teacher told you): take care of your cardio.
In recent years, however, it seems like a refresher course is in order, as only 23 per cent of Americans get the recommended 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (cycling, running) or 150 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking, swimming). As for Canadians, we may claim to be in better shape, but our phone data has caught us lying in surveys. The reasons for maintaining your cardio health through aerobic exercise are well-known, but they’re worth repeating.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Exercise helps keep the heart strong and allows it to pump blood more efficiently. That’s why aerobic exercise is recommended for people suffering from heart disease. It’s also recommended for people with high blood pressure as it lessens the amount of bad cholesterol in the arteries. Should your doctor alert you of either condition, one of the best non-medicinal remedies is 40 minutes of aerobic exercise per week.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Diabetes cases in Canada show no signs of slowing down, with 5.7 million citizens living with type one or two, and 11.7 million prediabetics. Exercise can play a vital role in helping people living with type two diabetes. For those not suffering, cardio can be a fantastic preventative measure.
Helps Regulate Sleep
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that physical activity regulates sleep. Young children are often encouraged to play during the day to ensure proper rest in the evening. It’s the same for adults. In fact, exercise doesn’t need to be that strenuous, as research has shown that even a little bit during the course of the day is enough. It’s especially effective in regulating sleep for those dealing with insomnia or just getting older.
Exercise is absolutely a factor in keeping your weight at a healthy level, but it should never be the only one. Doctors recommend exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, which also assists in sleep, blood sugar, and cardiovascular health.
Cheers You Up
The endorphins released in the brain after a good workout are what contribute to that good feeling you have when you leave the gym, but that feeling can be more than temporary. A 2013 study found that exercise alleviates depression. An hour spent running or swimming can even fight off the worst of a panic attack.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer