The Impact of Cardio and Fitness on Heart Health
People who engage in regular physical activity derive many important benefits. Not only is it easier to maintain a healthy weight with regular cardio exercise, but many people also find that they have more energy for completing daily tasks when they live an active lifestyle. Getting daily exercise often helps with overall mood, helping people feel more positive and happy. Exercise can help people sleep better at night also. And exercise is an effective way to maintain good health, helping people avoid specific diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Lifestyle can have a major impact on whether somebody develops heart disease. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding obesity, and exercising regularly are three components of a healthy lifestyle. The surgeon general has made formal recommendations regarding physical activity for adults. For optimal health, adults should engage in cardio exercise of moderate intensity for at least 2.5 hours every week. "Moderate intensity" will vary for everyone depending on their individual fitness level. To determine whether you are exercising at moderate intensity, use the "talk test." When exercising at this level, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but you would not be able to sing.
Abundant options exist for exercising at a moderate intensity level. Choose different types of exercise to keep yourself engaged. You might take a bike ride at a speed of at least 5 miles per hour, take a brisk walk, jog moderately, play golf while carrying or wheeling your own clubs, play tennis, engage in water or traditional aerobics, dance, or push a lawn mower. Exercise at the moderate intensity level will burn between 3.5 and 7 calories each minute.
Exercise performed at the moderate intensity level or higher helps make the heart stronger. As the heart gets stronger, it pumps blood more effectively. This enhances blood oxygen levels, which helps improve overall cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular heart disease involves the buildup of plaque in arteries. As plaque builds, less blood can pass through arteries. This situation results in less oxygen being carried throughout the body. Eventually, as plaque accumulates, it may rupture. Blood clots can also form on the plaque. These issues can lead to blockages in arteries, which could lead to a heart attack. As someone exercises, their blood pressure lowers. Exercise also helps increase one's HDL cholesterol level, which is beneficial for overall health.
Exercise that strengthens muscles is also beneficial for cardiovascular health. This type of exercise generally involves lifting weights or performing resistance training to force the muscles to hold weight. It's also possible to perform resistance training using body weight. Examples of this type of exercise include push-ups and chin-ups. Elastic bands can produce effective resistance when used to perform specific exercises. With regular strength-building exercise, muscles will become stronger. Resistance training can help lower blood pressure, which will have a positive impact on overall cardiovascular health. Engaging in resistance training for at least 30 minutes three times per week can be an effective way to improve heart health.
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with health problems. Sedentary activities involve anything that requires only a low level of energy to complete, such as watching television, working at a desk, or driving. People who spend a significant portion of their day sitting have an elevated risk for cardiovascular problems. Even some physical activity is better than doing nothing. People will derive more health benefits as they increase their physical activity level. For the most benefit, people should perform cardio exercise at the highest intensity they can safely and comfortably achieve. Performing this activity should also occur as often as possible and for as long as possible. Children and teenagers should also get regular exercise to maintain good health. In general, the benefits of exercise are far greater than any negative results that might occur.
Educate yourself on the many benefits of cardio exercise for maintaining cardiovascular health with these resources:
- Benefits of Physical Activity
- Heart Disease Prevention: What You Can Do
- Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits
- Aerobic Exercise Intensity and Target Heart Rate
- Heart Health (PDF)
- Cardiovascular Health
- What Can I Do to Prevent Heart Disease?
- 10 Minutes to a Healthier Heart (PDF)
- Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (PDF)
- What You Should Know About Cardiovascular Disease (PDF)
- Take the Plunge for Your Heart
- Sitting Too Much, Not Just Lack of Exercise, Is Detrimental to Cardiovascular Health
- Benefits of Exercise
- Study Shows Resistance Training Benefits Cardiovascular Health
- 10 Tips to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke
- Preventing Heart Disease
- Cardiorespiratory Endurance (PDF)
- What's Moderate-Intensity Exercise?
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