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The Importance of Aerobic Fitness and the Benefits Gained

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Almost all forms of sports include elements of aerobic ability. Its the ability by which we as individuals can sustain prolonged effort that gives us our aerobic fitness levels.

In general a sporting activity that lasts for 15 minutes or less is not fully aerobic. The exercise uses our anaerobic metabolism, meaning the energy our bodies already store and is limited due to our restricted energy sources. A 100m sprinter works an aerobically compared to a long distance runner who works aerobically. This is where the muscles use the oxygen for the combustion of fat and carbohydrates creating the necessary energy to move the body.

The ability and ease in which we breathe, which we take for granted, is the bodies most important function but all the same an unbelievable one! Its this skill to control this that dramatically improves our levels of fitness. Oxygen is obtained form the air and transferred to our lungs which in-turn flows through our blood and into our muscles. The more oxygen uptake we can achieve during a particular exercise lasting more than 15 minutes the better our aerobic fitness. This is measured as our Vo2 max.

Research has shown that aerobic fitness can be improved but is dependable upon age and sex. Its optimum in men is between 18yrs - 20yrs and in women between 15yrs - 20yrs. Males generally have a larger Vo2 max than women and this is due to the mass of muscle in the body. Aerobic fitness is directly linked to fat free body weight and statistically males have a higher mass than females.

Aerobic fitness is obviously directly related to our health and one in five men and one in seven women die from heart disease in the UK per year. Inactivity, high cholesterol levels, smoking, overweight, high blood pressure and diabetes are all contributing factors. Numerous studies have concluded that as little as half an hour of aerobic exercise such as walking, rowing or jogging three times a week can make patients 60 per cent less likely to die. It is four times more important than high blood pressure and twice as much as high cholesterol and consequently exercise clearly reduces many health risks.

The related effects of exercise include the following:-

- Assists in weight control mainly by reducing body fat.
- Strengthens and builds up both the muscles and bones.
- Increases stamina.
- Boosts your brain power.
- Encourages a better nights sleep.
- Promotes a healthier lifestyle.
- Helps prevent a huge variety of ailments from heart disease and breast cancer to diabetes, osteoporosis and even the common cold.
- Assists in the control of joint pain and swelling in people who suffer from arthritis.
- Can be more effective than medication in helping people with mild to moderate depression.
- Improvement in the functioning of the immune system.

...plus much much more.

Our aerobic fitness determines the degree of fatigue that everyone experiences in daily life. The better your aerobic fitness the less tired you will be.

What with aerobic fitness being very important in sport and even everyday situations its just as vital in childhood growth and development. A high level during a childs growing years indicates good development of muscle, bones and cardio-respiratory system. As we age our aerobic fitness provides detailed measurements of how fit we are physiologically. It is not unusual for someone of 60 years of age with a high aerobic fitness to be compared equally to that of a 35 year old with respect to that persons cardio-respiratory, muscular and other bodily systems.

Vo2 max does decrease with age but exercise slows its rate of decline.

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