Cardiovascular training is useful in many ways. Also known as aerobic training, cardiovascular exercise improves the function of heart and lungs. Oxygen is more effectively brought to all tissues in people who train aerobically. This means that all body tissues have a greater opportunity to repair themselves and function at optimal capacity. In addition to increases in oxygen availability and utilization, hormonal changes also occur. In combination these element can raise an individuals energy levels.
Cardio training strengthens connective tissues and bones due to repetitive stresses. In addition, muscle tension often melts away during aerobic training due to both the pumping action of the muscles (which pumps out old blood and toxins and brings in fresh, oxygen-rich blood) and the healthy muscle fatigue associated with this type of exercise.
Cardiovascular training has been shown to be effective in the prevention and/or treatment of the following disorders:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)
- Syndrome X (metabolic syndrome)
- Chronic Fatigue
- Some types of Cancer
- Stress relief
- Back Pain
Common goals for cardiovascular training include fitness, health, prevention or treatment of the above disorders (and others), and training for sports events.
How Much How Often?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 days per week. Many studies have found that if a high intensity is maintained 20 minutes 3 times per week is sufficient for general fitness.
For weight loss at least 45 minute per day several days per week is recommended. This allows you to burn more calories per workout. If fat loss is your goal it is also recommended to do some strength training. This will result in hormonal changes, metabolic changes, and muscle gain, all of which will help you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Intensity is key. The heart rate scale is commonly used to gauge intensity during aerobic exercise. This scale may not be safe or accurate for individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure, or individuals on blood pressure medication or beta blockers. Check with your doctor if you have cardiovascular disease before beginning an exercise program. Below is a table which shows you how to calculate your target heart range:
Calculate .........your exercise heart range..........
First determine your maximum heart rate.... 220 minus your age = your maximum.
|Second, determine the upper limit of your range.... 0.9 times your maximum = your upper limit.
|Third, determine the lower limit of your range....... 0.6 times your maximum = your lower limit.
|Your exercise heart range is between your upper and lower limits.