Aerobic Exercise Benefits
Aerobic exercise provides numerous health benefits shown below. Additionally, aerobic exercise can reverse certain chronic health problems regardless of when a man becomes more physically active.
Why Is Aerobic Exercise So Important?
Aerobic exercise improves body composition (increased lean muscle; decreased fat), mood, and sleep quality and duration. Regular aerobic exercise also lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels, increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol levels, and decreases triglyceride levels.
Elevated LDL cholesterol leads to atherosclerotic plaque build up on the inside walls of arteries. This build up ultimately leads to coronary artery disease and other circulatory problems. Additionally, plaque rupture can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol removes LDL cholesterol from the blood stream and thus prevents plaque buildup.
Additionally, aerobic exercise is superior to resistance exercise in its positive blood cholesterol alterations and is the best physical activity for lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise is clearly beneficial.
Aerobic Exercise Recommendations and Types
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have created the following aerobic exercise recommendations. For all men, the recommendations call for 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Click here for chart-version.
What are examples of aerobic activities?
When beginning an aerobic exercise regimen, men often consider running as their first and only option. For those men who enjoy running, it is an excellent form of aerobic activity. However, running is not the only aerobic exercise available. In fact, any activity that increases a man’s heart rate for an extended period of time can be considered an aerobic activity. If you don’t enjoy one form of physical activity, choose another that you do enjoy. The key to success in any aerobic activity routine is finding one or more exercises that you enjoy and sticking with them. For more information on the elements of an aerobic exercise routine, see Elements of an Aerobic Exercise Regimen.
The following list provides examples of potential moderate and vigorous intensity exercises.
Walking (≤4.0 mph)
Bicycling stationary (50-100 W)
Bicycling (≤10 mph)
Rowing machine (50 -100 W)
Swimming (treading water)
Jogging/running (≥4.5 mph)
Bicycling stationary (100+ W)
Bicycling (>10 mph)
Boxing (punching bag)
Rowing machine (100+ W)
Weight Training Benefits
Resistance exercise provides the numerous benefits. Additionally, starting a resistance exercise plan can help reverse chronic health problems regardless of when you become more physically active.
- Increases muscle mass
- Increases resting metabolism
- Improves body compostion
- Decreases risk of diabetes
- Lowers stress
- Improves mental health
- Improves sleep quality
The main benefit of weight training is that it INCREASES your lean body mass (muscle mass). More Muscle = Higher Metabolism = Less Fat Accumulation!
Aging and Lean Body Mass: The Bad News
As a man ages, he loses muscle mass, typically about 0.5 – 1.0% per year after the age of 40.1 Those numbers may seem small, but by the age of 50 those small losses add up to roughly a 5 – 10% loss in muscle mass. The term for the age-related decline in muscle mass is sacropenia. According to one study, approximately 1 in every 2 men over the age of 60 suffer from moderate sacropenia. Sacropenia causes a decrease in metabolism and a loss in functional strength.
This loss in muscle mass does two things. First, this muscle loss lowers your resting metabolism so you burn fewer calories throughout the day. This lower resting metabolism makes it even more difficult to avoid putting on excess fat. Second, your muscle strength decreases which can lead to functional disability.
Resistance Training and Lean Body Mass: The Good News
Resistance training maintains or increases lean muscle mass and, as a result, maintains or increases resting metabolism. Muscle burns approximately three times more energy than fat at rest. Therefore, muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat. Although aerobic exercise typically burns more energy per hour than resistance exercise, resistance exercise increases muscle mass and hence resting metabolic rate. This means that increased muscle mass benefits you all day and night by burning more energy.
Additional muscle mass results in an increase in resting energy expenditure. In fact, resistance training is the most effective way to reduce muscle mass and strength losses that accompany aging. Resistance exercise increases strength as well. So, not only will you look better, but you will also be stronger and more self-sufficient.