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Health and Fitness Benefits of Aerobic Activity

This is an excerpt from ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health-2nd Edition by American College of Sports Medicine & Barbara Bushman.

Regular and consistent aerobic activity improves your cardiorespiratory endurance. In other words, your heart, blood vessels, and lungs benefit from working harder than normal. Exercise improves your cardiorespiratory function by increasing the activity of these organ systems above what they experience at rest. Over time, your body adapts to these stresses and your fitness improves.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is an important aspect of health for a number of reasons:

  • Better cardiorespiratory endurance typically leads to higher levels of routine physical activity as you go about your day-to-day life. This in turn provides additional health benefits.
  • Low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with higher risk of premature death from all causes, and specifically from cardiovascular disease. To look at this from a more positive perspective, increases in cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with a decreased risk of death from all causes.
  • Aerobic fitness is an important foundation that allows you to engage in activities of daily living with greater ease.
  • Increases in cardiorespiratory endurance allow you to more fully participate in recreational and sport activities.
  • Aerobic activities that promote cardiorespiratory endurance also burn a relatively large number of calories and thus help to maintain appropriate body weight.

This is not an exhaustive list but does demonstrate the wide-ranging benefits of aerobic exercise for health as well as fitness.

Aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory endurance.
Aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory endurance.



Learn more about ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness and Health, Second Edition.