The importance of exercise has been known to humanity for ages. The phrase ‘A sound body has a sound mind’ has been emphasized enough that it has become second nature to most people living in this global village. But with all the benefits that are provided by regular exercise, have you ever thought that it can also reduce the chances of acquiring flu and pneumonia or can somehow decrease the mortality rate related to these health conditions? Don’t worry if you haven’t because some scientists have already studied this correlation.
A longitudinal study conducted on US adults published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has indicated in its findings that people who do aerobic exercise on a regular basis are less prone to flu and pneumonia. Even if they catch influenza, they have greater body strength to combat the disease in comparison to those who are reluctant to exercise. Let us dig deeper into this research and understand what sort of exercises can help you achieve this kind of physical vigor.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is a type of physical activity in which the reach of oxygen to the muscles is increased. As a result, the muscles start burning fat at a faster rate. During aerobic exercise, as the heart rate is also elevated, the chances of embolism or fat deposition in the coronary artery are tremendously reduced thus improving cardiac health.
How much exercise should I do per week?
Several studies as well as the guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services have suggested that a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise done on a weekly basis is enough to achieve the vitality and core strength needed to improve your mood as well as your overall health. These 150 minutes must include moderate-intensity workouts as doing extremely high-intensity exercises can potentially harm the body instead of benefiting it. Similar is the case with extremely low-intensity work outs or doing nothing at all.
Reduction in health-related problems
People who are known to perform at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise have a 21% lesser chance of acquiring flu and pneumonia as compared to non-exercisers. Interestingly, this percentage further rose when the duration of exercise was increased i.e. 50% lesser risk of getting infected with flu or pneumonia in people whose duration of weekly activity falls between 301 to 600 minutes. This is a clear indication of the presence of direct proportionality between the two factors.
However, when the duration of exercise was further increased i.e. more than 600 minutes per week, the health benefits did not elevate any further suggesting that the optimal duration of weekly exercise is indeed up to 600 minutes.
Reduction in disease-related mortality rate
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated, influenza and pneumonia have collectively taken nearly 50,000 lives in the US alone during the current year. This means that nearly 13% of people are dying in a population of 100,000. Moreover, the annual burden of flu and pneumonia between the years 2010 and 2020 in the US has been illustrated in the following chart:
The study in discussion has also enlisted that this mortality rate is also negatively impacted by the habit of ample weekly exercise i.e. a 36% reduction has been observed in mortality risk associated with flu and pneumonia in regular exercisers. The reason behind this reduction can be associated with the improvement of the overall health state of a person, strengthened immunity, and elevated energy levels needed to fight disease.
Which exercises are best for me?
When it comes to aerobic exercises, there is a wide range you can choose from. These include:
- Outdoor cycling
- Brisk walking
- Jumping rope
- Cardio kickboxing
- Using an elliptical trainer
Are there any side effects of aerobic exercise?
If it is your first time with aerobic exercise, you are likely to experience some of the following side effects:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle fatigue and pain
- Sore muscles
- Back pain
- Pain in the upper middle back
Fortunately, it is easy to manage these side effects with easy steps:
- Take a cold shower to reduce the soreness and manage the pain
- Use an over-the-counter painkiller to relieve muscle pain
- Drink a lot of water and fluids to manage dehydration
Approach aerobic exercise safely
To decrease your risk of any side effects after aerobic respiration, it is advised to adopt the following guidelines:
- You should dress appropriately before starting to exercise. Wearing light-weight, breezy clothes can help with the sweating.
- Use proper shoes to avoid injury. Replace your shoes once the need arises.
- Do warm-ups before diving into the high-intensity workout. You can also do some stretches to help release muscle tension.
- Stay hydrated. It helps manage the loss of water which happens due to sweating.
- Take your time while approaching exercise. If you don’t feel something is right for you, stay behind and look for another aerobic option that you can do easily.
Exercising regularly provides the individual with a lot of benefits including elevated mood, enhanced physical strength, improved overall health, and boosted immunity. Recent studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less to get infected by flu or pneumonia. Additionally, the mortality rate in such individuals owing to these disease states is also significantly reduced. Hence, in a long list of benefits that can be achieved by exercising regularly, this new addition is a prominent one.