The World Health Organization recommends that adults engage in no less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week to stay in good health. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 50 percent of adults in the United States meet this requirement. The health benefits gained from regular physical activity are enormous, and in addition, these health benefits can even be seen following a single bout of aerobic exercise.
High blood pressure, or hyper tension, is a leading cause of death in the United States, and approximately one in every three Americans has high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to a laundry list of health problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, stroke and coronary artery disease. Blood pressure is lowered for approximately 12 to 16 hours after a single aerobic workout. Not only can physical activity prevent hypertension, but it has also been shown that a single workout can lower blood pressure if you are already hypertensive.
Cholesterol is a fat-like compound contained in many foods. It is transported through the blood by proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins: high-density and low-density. LDL is "bad" cholesterol that can accumulate inside of your blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. HDL is "good" cholesterol and functions to remove LDL from your blood. It has been reported that a single bout of aerobic exercise can increase HDL levels in your blood by as great as 43 percent, indicating that a single workout can lower your risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Excess calories in your diet are broken down and stored as triglycerides. Triglycerides circulate in your blood before they are stored as fats, and high triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that triglyceride levels are decreased 18 to 24 hours after acute exercise, thus lowering your risk of heart disease.
Type II Diabetes
According to the WHO, 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 90 percent of these people have Type 2 diabetes. Your body produces insulin, which allows sugar from your diet to move from your blood into your cells to be used for energy. Type 2 diabetics do not respond to insulin; therefore, sugar accumulates in the blood and does not enter the cells to allow them to function properly. Being overweight increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes, and in addition to promoting weight loss, acute exercise can make your body more responsive to insulin.
- WHO: Physical Activity and Adults
- CDC: Adult Participation in Aerobic and Muscle-Strengthening Physical Activities — United States, 2011
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: The acute versus the chronic response to exercise
- AHA: About Cholesterol
- MayoClinic: Triglycerides: Why do they matter?
- AHA: High Blood Pressure - 2013 Statistical Fact Sheet
- WHO: Diabetes
- MayoClinic: Type 2 Diabetes
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