Cardio 101

Most of us know that cardio exercise is good for our hearts...so why do so many of us not do it?  Fitness expert Beth Oliver gave us the cardio facts she hopes will inspire everyone to start moving!

We all know that “cardio” exercise is good for our hearts, but do we really know why?  And what exactly is cardio exercise and how much is enough? 

Cardio exercise is any activity that uses the large muscles of the body, raises your heart rate and is continuous and rhythmic.  It could be walking, pushing a lawn mower, dancing, swimming, playing hopscotch, walking stairs or running.

Essentially, your heart and lungs send blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the brain.  The stronger your heart and lungs are, the easier it is for your body to do the things it needs to do.  Nearly all the contributors to heart disease can be affected by cardio vascular training: Blood Pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol levels, stress, and body weight and body composition.

In order to be considered intense enough to strengthen the cardiovascular system, you want to be a little “huffy puffy”.  In other words, you do want to be able to talk out loud, but you shouldn’t be able to sing an entire song.  Duration is more important than intensity as you begin your cardiovascular training.  You want to work up to 30 minutes of activity so that you get into that continuous, rhythmic state.  If you are just beginning, start with 5 minutes of movement every other day and add on a few minutes every week.  You will also get benefits from accumulating small bouts of activity, but for ample heart health, you really want to work towards the 30 minute recommendation.

Of course, if weight loss is also a goal, cardio training isn’t the only healthy choice you’ll be making.  You’ll be eating right, getting enough sleep and drinking ample water.  Once you are in the habit of getting your cardio 3x a week, you may want to add in some weight training, it taxes the muscular-skeletal system, but the two really work hand in hand.

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