What is Cardiovascular Fitness?….and other Frequently Asked Questions!
Cardiovascular fitness is essential requirement for keeping both your mind and body healthy. When we talk about cardiovascular fitness we are referring to the body’s overall ability to efficiently perform all the metabolic processes needed to perform movments and generate energy through the circulation of blood and oxygen. Any improvement of cardiovascular health involves strengthening the heart and increasing bloodflow (and therefore, endurance). As the heart is just like any other muscle in the body we can make it stronger by exercise and conditioning, by progressively increasing its workload over a period of weeks and months.
What is the Cardiovascular system?
The Cardiovascular system is the pump (heart) and collection of pipes (ie, veins, arteries, etc) that circulate blood throughout the body. It is also often referred to as the circulatory system. The primary organ responsible for the circulation of blood is the heart as it shunts the blood throughout the body.
How does cardiovascular fitness benefit the body?
The Cardiovascular system is an intregal part of almost every function within the body. Therefore, the benefits of cardiovascular fitness go beyond simply strengthening the heart. The circulatory system acts a transporter for many essential components for metabolism (ie, oxygen, CO2, iron, energy, lactate, and many more). There is also a direct effect that this type of exercise has on the mental processes because of the increased blood flow.
What type of exercises strengthen the cardiovascular system?
There are basically two primary formats for exercise. There are aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises are those which mostly involve the larger muscles and lasts a long enough period of time to increase the bodies need for oxygen and it is this type of exercise which is essential to strengthening the cardiovascular system. Therefore, appropriate forms of cardiovascular exercise are running, aerobics, vigorous walking, cycling and some sports if played actively enough. To ensure that we get an increase in fitness we need to maintain a heart rate of over 60% of our maximum heart rate. You can find this by taking your age and then subtracting it from 220. So for example, if you are 35 then the upper limit would be 185. Once we have this then we can use it to determine whether we are reaching an ideal level of 60% to 80% of the upper limit. Most trainers agree that the heart needs to reach a rate of 60% – 80% of the maximum for a sufficient cardiovascular heart rate.
The key is to choose something that you can enjoy if at all possible. The more pleasurable the activity is, the more likely you are to continue doing it.
How can I get started?
Quite often, the hardest part of increasing your fitness is getting started, and all you really need to do is put on a pair of shoes and walk out the door. But consistency truly is the key so getting started involves more than just exercising the first day. The key in getting started is to make it a habit, a part of your lifestyle. You will increase your chances of performing consistent exercise if you find yourself a training partner (or more than one!!!). Knowing that somebody else depends on you will greatly increase your chances of keeping your commitment.
How do I know I am doing enough?
If you lead a relatively inactive lifestyle (ie, not moving much throughout the course of each day) then you really need to be having a structured exercise every day. This is also the case if you wish to lose weight in a shorter time period. Try to exercise for 45-60 minutes each day. If you can’t do it in the one block, break the overall time into 2-3 different sessions.
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