Cardiovascular Exercise: Basic Training For Your Heart
Heart Health > > Cardiovascular Exercise: Basic Training For Your Heart
Lack of exercise is often overlooked by most people trying to figure out why they are gaining so much weight and their cholesterol is so high. In particular, lack of regular, moderate cardiovascular exercise is a leading cause of heart disease and other heart related conditions. Inadequate cardiovascular exercise is just as critical a problem as a diet that is full of saturated fats and trans fats. The vast majority of Americans do not receive adequate cardiovascular exercise in their day to day lives.
Just like your muscles need a regular workout to retain their mass, your heart needs a regular cardiovascular workout to function efficiently. Without any cardiovascular exercise at all, your heart will not work as hard, and eventually it will cease to work altogether. The three key principles of cardiovascular exercise are duration, intensity, and frequency. Put simply, the most effective cardiovascular exercise must be long without being too long, intense without over exertion, and frequent enough that your body realizes the benefits of the exercise.
If you are just starting out with cardiovascular exercise, it is important to start slow and increase duration, intensity, and frequency as your body fitness increases. One of the easiest ways to increase the amount of cardiovascular exercise that you receive is to walk more often. If you work in the city, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Walk to work. If you live in a small town, walk to buy groceries and run small errands. Increasing the amount of walking you do increases cardiovascular exercise and incidentally it feels good too.
Perhaps one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise is running. Running gets your heart rate up and is a great way to burn off calories from fat laden foods. You can run on a treadmill at the gym or around your neighborhood before or after work. You should feel a good run and you shouldn't feel a shortness of breath. If you feel a shortness of breath, moderate your distance or intensity until you can run at a comfortable level. Cardiovascular exercise should never be painful.
Other good sources of cardiovascular exercise include swimming, climbing, or playing sports that involve significant cardiovascular exercise including tennis, football, and hockey. It is important to allow your body to warm up before doing cardiovascular exercise. Warm up activities usually include some form of stretching to increase blood circulation. After a prolonged period of cardiovascular exercise, it is equally important to allow your body to cool down through activities similar to warm up exercises but at a lower intensity.
If you are at risk for a heart attack, you should consult your doctor to determine the appropriate amount of cardiovascular exercise that you should do. Cardiovascular exercise, if particularly strenuous, can exacerbate a heart condition in people with a compromised heart and can often trigger a heart attack.