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Key points:

1. The aerobic system fuels most of the activities we do every day - walking, playing a musical instrument, solving a problem.

2. Regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, cycling, or hiking, makes your cardiovascular system stronger (heart, blood vessels, lungs) and energy pathways in your muscles more efficient. 

3. Training your aerobic system is the foundation of health and performance.

The potential for improvement in our lives by moving more is great. Simply standing up changes that way your body uses energy, circulates blood, and also how you think! Exercise can improve concentration, learning, focus, memory, and can even prevent and treat mental illnesses. But taking advantage of this will require a paradigm shift. We need to incorporate movement into our daily lives. Here a key to making that happen - build your fitness.

The foundation of health and performance is your aerobic system. The aerobic system is the system that uses oxygen to create energy that fuels most of the activities in your life, from walking to running, to playing music, to writing a test, or to solving a math problem. Low to moderate physical activity is the key to building up your aerobic system and unlocking all the related benefits.

Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking and other low to moderate level activities will build up your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, blood, blood vessels) and the aerobic energy pathway inside your muscles. When you put stress on your muscles, heart and lungs by pushing them through these activities, you stimulate adaptation in the system and make it more efficient.

To begin with, forcing your heart to beat more frequently causes the same change in your heart that occur in any muscle you use regularly – it gets stronger and can pump blood through the body more easily. The amount of blood that moves through your body with each beat of your heart is called “stroke volume” and if you exercise regularly, you increase the amount of blood that can be pumped by your heart each time it beats.

You are also increasing the rate at which oxygen is absorbed into your body by your tissues. This happens because you induce a process called “angiogenesis” which increases the density of the capillary beds that surround your muscle fibres. Capillaries are the tiny vessels at the end of the chain of blood vessels that begins with your heart and arteries. There are between 3 and 5 capillaries around each muscle fibre in your body and endurance activity ensures that your capillary beds will be at the upper end of that range.

Aerobic exercise also encourages the growth and development of mitochondria. Mitochondria are little organelles inside your cells that produce energy. Exercise stimulates mitochondria to grow, replicate and improve their ability to make use of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order to generate energy. This does take some time, so be patient when you start a workout routine – the energy boost might take a few weeks to come online as your body produces enough mitochondria to meet the new demand!

Today's POWER-UP: Find an aerobic activity you enjoy

1. There are many aerobic activities that you can do depending on the season and what's available to you: walking, jogging, cycling, paddle boarding, playing in the park with your kids, cross country skiing, swimming, etc...

2. Brainstorm what activity or activities you enjoy doing so that you'll stick to it! 

Dive Deeper: What type of exercise is best for your brain?

There are three main types of exercise. Aerobic exercise like running, high intensity interval training like spinning, and resistance training like lifting weights.

While looking at the impact of these different types of exercise on the brains of humans is extremely difficult and expensive, researchers in Finland looked at the impact of exercise on the brains of rats. They found that 6-8 weeks of aerobic exercise led to the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (a part of the brain associated with learning and memory).

High intensity training had a small, non-significant impact on the brain and resistance training did not change neural structures in the hippocampus.

So what does that mean for you? If you want to optimize your brain and keep it healthy you should walk, jog, swim, or hike regularly!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.