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Cardiovascular Fitness - Cardio Workouts

  • Published: 2009-02-10 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-26) : Author: Dave Tupniak
  • Synopsis: There is so much talk about the need to have good cardiovascular fitness to maintain good health these days.
Cardiovascular Fitness

Cardiovascular fitness is defined as the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement. This type of fitness is a health-related component of physical fitness that is brought about by sustained physical activity.

Main Document

"Cardiovascular fitness, also known as cardio-respiratory endurance, is a term that is used to describe a unique form of muscular endurance."

There is so much talk about the need to have good cardiovascular fitness to maintain good health these days.

But for somebody with no knowledge on the subject, there might be some confusion on exactly what cardiovascular fitness means and how to raise the level of their cardiovascular fitness.

This article aims to clarify exactly what cardiovascular fitness is, the benefits of cardio workouts, and the basic principles to increase ones cardiovascular fitness.

Cardiovascular fitness, also known as cardio-respiratory endurance, is a term that is used to describe a unique form of muscular endurance. In essence, it describes the efficiency in which the lungs, heart, and vascular system work in order to provide oxygen to the working muscles of the body so that the exertion of the muscle is able to be maintained. Of course there are many factors that can affect cardiovascular fitness including heart rate, stroke volume, and the ability of the muscle cells to take up oxygen out of the blood. When we exercise our bodies in the aerobic threshold, which I will explain later, we cause several changes in our body to occur. Our general metabolism starts to rise, our muscles increase their metabolism, the efficiency of delivering blood back to our heart is increase, and in turn the efficiency by which our heart operates is increased in delivering blood to our working tissues.

The benefits of cardiovascular fitness are numerous.

The first benefit would be that it strengthens both the heart muscle and the muscles involved in breathing such as the lungs. Not only can we carry out sustained periods of exertion with minimal discomfort there are also physiological benefits such as reducing ones blood pressure, increased resting metabolism to burn fat, and the release of endorphins to the brain which gives us a general feeling of well being decreasing the chance or warding off depression and anxiety. The list can go on and on. What you need to know is that the health benefits of getting into a good cardiovascular state are numerous.

Before we begin looking at different activities to increase your cardiovascular fitness some basic principles need to be shared. In order to illicit a change in the body one needs to stress their body to a state where the heart is beating at a rate equivalent to at least 75% of the age predicted maximum heart rate with an aim to getting to 85%. For the beginners out there it is important that you do not try to overdue it. It takes time for the body to make changes and by overdoing it you put your body at risk, never mind not enjoying the exercise.

Choose an activity that you will enjoy doing. It doesn't have to be getting on to an elliptical machine or treadmill unless you enjoy doing that type of activity. Depending on your current level fitness, a power walk outside may be all you need to get the heart going. You could also go for a run outside, ride a bike, climb stairs, go swimming, in-line skating, go for a hike, play tennis, or even play with the kids outside. I'm sure you can think of some other activities from here that can get your heart rate up and keep it up.

The time requirement will vary depending on the intensity that you are working out but in general you will want to strive for 30-90 minutes on most days with the bare minimum being 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you find it too difficult to go for all 30 minutes all at once, break it up. Do 15 at one time and do 15 minutes another. This should only be for the beginners though. You should try to get to a point where 30 minutes of continuous exercise can be easily maintained.

The Intensity with which you exercise is going to very widely depending on your starting fitness level. We have already discussed heart rate, but there are easier ways to determine if you are exercising hard enough without overdoing it. You could work off the scale of 10, where 1 is basically doing nothing and 10 is going all out. You will want to try to get to a 6-8. Beginners might only be able to go at these levels for short periods of time. That is alright as long as you try to work up over time to do more. If you have a workout partner, the easiest way to determine your intensity is to talk with your workout partner. If you are working out so hard that you can't keep a conversation going because you are too out of breath then you are working to hard. You should be exerting yourself but not killing yourself.

I hope this information provides some clarity and gives some encouragement to increase your cardiovascular fitness level.

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