Exercise & Fitness

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Aerobic Exercise for Well-Being

Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate and respiratory rate, the kind that feels like work and makes you huff, puff, and sweat. Aerobic exercise does not just mean aerobics, the classes offered at most health clubs and spas. Aerobics classes are one kind of aerobic activity; there are many others, including running, some kinds of walking, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, jumping rope, dancing, and climbing stairs.

Aerobic exercise conditions our hearts and arteries and respiratory systems. It increases stamina and general fitness. It promotes cleansing of the blood by stimulating circulation and perspiration. It gives a sense of strength and well-being, in part by releasing endorphins, the opiatelike molecules in the brain that can make us high, happy, and more tolerant of discomfort. It increases the flow of oxygen to all organs, enabling them to work more efficiently. It burns calories, undoing some of the damage we do by eating too much. It strengthens the immune system. It reduces stress. It lowers serum cholesterol. It tones the nervous system. It is the type of exercise most people need to concentrate on first. With all those benefits, how could you not want to?

Read more articles and information on exercises for well-being in Dr. Weil’s Exercise and Fitness section.