Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise





Cardiovascular exercise known as cardio by most in the fitness profession is associated with numerous health benefits; therefore, it is an invaluable part of any fitness program. Cardio exercise is any activity that increases the work of the heart and lungs. Activities such as brisk walking, running, training on the elliptical machine, biking, and working on the Stairmaster, are some of the more well-known forms of cardio. 

During cardio exercise you repeatedly move large muscles in the upper and lower parts of your body. Your body responds by breathing faster and more deeply providing increased blood flow to these muscles and back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body also releases endorphins which are natural pain killers that promote an increased sense of well-being.

Regardless of your age, cardio exercise is good for you. As your body adapts to a cardio routine your heart and lungs will become stronger and more efficient in performing their activities. The following are additional benefits of cardiovascular exercise:[1]
·        Helps to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Combined with strength training and a healthy diet cardio helps you to lose weight and to keep it off.

·        Increase your stamina. Cardio may make you tired in the short term, but over the long term, you will enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue.

·        Ward off viral illnesses. Cardio activates your immune system, thus making you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses such as colds and flu.

·        Reduce health risks. Cardio, combined with strength training, reduces the risk of many conditions including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

·        Manage chronic conditions. Cardio, combined with strength training, helps to lower blood pressure and to control blood sugar.

·        Strengthen your heart. A stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast and pumps blood more efficiently. Consequently, blood flow is improved to all parts of your body.

·        Keeps your arteries clear. Cardio boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, which results  in less plaque build-up in your arteries.

·        Boost your mood. Cardio can ease the gloominess of depression, reduce the tension associated with anxiety and promote relaxation.

·        Stay active and independent as you get older. Cardio, in conjunction with strength training, keeps your muscles strong, helping you maintain mobility as you get older. Cardio also keeps your mind sharp. At least 30 minutes of cardio three days a week seems to reduce cognitive decline in older adults.



[1] MayoClinic.org