WHETHER the aim of your fitness journey is to lose weight, to get more toned, or to improve your overall health, cardiovascular training is a key component in all fitness regimens, according to Gisel Harrow, fitness trainer at Hard End Fitness Factory on Ardenne Road.
“Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is one of the most beneficial exercises and its versatility and effectiveness can improve one's health immensely. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is the movement that increases the heart and respiratory rate, and increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body,” Harrow explained.
While Harrow said there are quite a lot of benefits to be had from incorporating cardiovascular exercises in your fitness plan, below she shares a few.
Increased heart muscle strength
Since at the centre of cardiovascular training is the heart, Harrow explained that since the heart is worked significantly because of all the pumping that occurs with these types of exercises, what will happen is that the muscles will strengthen. In the absence of cardiovascular exercises, the heart is likely to become weakened and may result in a number of life-threatening illnesses.
Successive research has shown where cardiovascular exercises reduce the bad cholesterol in the body, which often builds up on the walls of the arteries as well as raises the risk of heart disease. Harrow pointed out that cardiovascular exercises have also been linked to an increase in HDL or good cholesterol, since it mobilises the cholesterol in your blood.
When one engages in cardiovascular exercises the brain releases tension-fighting hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which boosts your mood and fuels your energy levels. These hormones also positively affect self-esteem.
Lowered blood pressure
Engaging in cardiovascular activity is the perfect drug-free way to lower and control your blood pressure levels. What happens is that since the heart gets stronger the more you exercise, it makes it easier for the heart to pump more blood with less effort. When the pressure on the heart to pump blood is reduced, then the pressure on the arteries also decreases, thereby lowering your blood pressure.
Since cardiovascular activities help with burning calories throughout the day, they are ideal for people seeking to lose weight, and they also help with maintaining a healthy weight.
Once it is not done too close to bedtime, performing cardiovascular exercises is an excellent sleep aid. What it does is that it helps you to doze off much faster as well as promoting REM sleep, which is the same thing we refer to as sleeping deeply and soundly. It is the same thing that is required to help the body to recover and repair.
Improves bone and joint health
It helps to manage arthritis discomfort and maintains joint range of motion as well as it fights osteoporosis and reduces the possibility of hip fracture.
If you're ready to reap some of these benefits, then the list of cardio activities shared by Harrow is the right place to start. Not only are they effective, the majority of them can be achieved without the use of gym equipment. They include jump rope, brisk walks, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, sprints, burpees and hiking — basically anything that gets your heart rate up and into a state of fat burning.