Cardio exercise — running, cycling, treadmill-ing — may be a bitch in the short-term, but their long-term physical and mental benefits are evident. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise has the potential to significantly promote weight loss, sharpen brain function and fight anxiety and depression, among several other impressive results.
Here are five health benefits of cardio that'll put the love in your love/hate relationship with the elliptical:
Exercise decreases blood pressure. Data analysis in the Annals of Medicine shows that aerobic exercise significantly reduces blood pressure that can otherwise lead to cardiovascular disease, strokes and blood clots. What's more, those who don't exercise have a 30-50% higher risk for high blood pressure.
It'll help keep you sharp when you're older: Researchers at the University of Illinois found in a six-month trial of elderly people that those who participated in a regulated aerobic exercise program experienced an increase in brain volume that suggested cardio exercise can help spare brain tissue.
Cardio is a strong antidote for anxiety and depression: Studies have shown that aerobic exercise inhibits anxiety and depression both in the short- and long-terms. In one study that tested the correlation, researchers found in a study of 43 depressed female undergrads that a 10-week aerobic exercise treatment with no other medical treatment significantly decreased their symptoms.
Exercise can help cancer patients rehabilitate after chemo: There have been several studies on the effect of aerobic exercise on cancer patients. In the journal Cancer, researchers found that cardio helps restore patients' energy and enhance physical rehabilitation after chemotherapy.
It can help keep your bones intact: A four-month aerobic exercise trial on over 100 older men and women found that those who were at-risk for bone fracture experienced an increase in bone mineral content. Got milk? More like, "Got treadmill?"