In my five year study of the daily habits of the rich and poor, aerobic exercise seemed to be the exercise du jour of the wealthy and successful. 76% of the successful engaged in aerobic exercise compared. Conversely, 77% of the poor avoided aerobic exercise. The benefits of aerobic exercise have multiple benefits which improve cognitive ability, improve health, reduce stress and contribute to overall happiness. Below are five benefits of aerobic exercise that the wealthy enjoy:
- Improves Mental Functioning – Aerobic exercise floods the bloodstream with oxygen. This oxygen eventually makes its way to the brain. Since the brain uses 20% of our oxygen reserves, increased oxygen flow into the brain soaks up more free radicals inside the brain, making it cleaner and healthier. 20 – 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day has been proven to stimulate the growth of axon branches on each neuron. The number of axon branches you have is directly related to how intelligent you are. So aerobic exercise makes you more intelligent.
- Improves Health – Aerobic exercise includes running, jogging, walking, biking, swimming etc. Aerobic exercise is one the most efficient ways to lose weight. On average, men lose 124 calories per mile, while women lose 105 calories per mile. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow, feeds the body with oxygen and strengthens the heart. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise helps lower high blood pressure and control blood sugar. If you’ve had a heart attack, aerobic exercise helps prevent subsequent attacks. Aerobic exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol. The potential result? Less buildup of plaques in your arteries.Studies show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly. Healthier people have fewer sick days, more energy and this translates into more productivity at work. More productivity makes you more valuable to your organization, customers or clients, which translates into more value and ultimately more money.
- Prevents Disease – Oxygen is like a sponge. It soaks up free radicals (cancer causing elements) and converts these free radicals to carbon dioxide. The blood carries this carbon dioxide to the lungs, which then removes the carbon dioxide from our bodies by exhaling it into the environment. Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer. The more we exercise, the more oxygen we take in and the more free radicals are soaked up by this oxygen sponge process.
- Reduces the Effects of Stress Which Improves Immune System – When we feel stress, there is a domino effect of physiology that takes place inside our bodies. When we think negative thoughts that create stress the hypothalamus increases the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones make the heart beat faster and prepare the body for fight or flight. If the stress lingers, a gene on chromosome 10, called CYP17, is activated. This gene goes to work to convert cholesterol to cortisol. Cortisol is used in virtually every part of the body and it’s purpose is to integrate the body and the mind. The body and mind then work in harmony to escape the outside world danger responsible for the stress. One of cortisol’s side effects, unfortunately, is that it depresses the immune system by reducing the production of lymphocytes – white blood cells. The gene CYP17 also turns on another gene called TCF, which suppresses the the creation of a protein called interleukin 2. Interleukin 2′s purpose is to put white blood cells on high alert. White blood cells are our main defense against viruses, diseases, germs and any parasites that infect the body. Long-term stress, therefore, impairs our immune system’s ability to fight off these viruses, diseases, germs and parasites. Because aerobic exercise floods the body with oxygen, as mentioned above, this increased oxygen reduces the effects of stress on the body. Because aerobic exercise contributes to an overall feeling of well-being through the release of certain hormones, it acts as a stress reducer. Aerobic exercise is like a double in baseball; it reduces the effects of stress while at the same time reducing stress itself.
- Makes Us Feel Happier – Happiness is activity-driven. It is not a destination. It is the culmination of frequent happiness events. 40% of all happiness is the result of engaging in frequent happiness activities. Aerobic exercise is a happiness activity because it contributes to an overall feeling of well being. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being and make us feel “happier”.