What is Cardiovascular Exercise?
Cardiovascular exercise is any form of physical activity that elevates an individual’s heart rate (usually to around 60 – 85% of their maximum heart rate) for a sustained period of time (usually greater than 20 minutes). Cardiovascular exercise (also known as aerobic exercise) is a vital component of general fitness and has numerous health and wellbeing benefits.
This guide will help you to achieve the maximum cardiovascular benefit from your exercise regime and ensure you experience definite improvement in your level of cardiovascular fitness.
From an injury perspective, cardiovascular exercise is usually safe to perform provided it does not cause or increase pain during exercise or after exercise with rest (e.g. the next night or upon waking the following morning). You should discuss the suitability of any new exercise regime with your physiotherapist or doctor prior to beginning.
Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
Some of the main health benefits associated with the performance of regular cardiovascular or aerobic exercise at an appropriate intensity and duration include:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Reduced risk of developing coronary artery disease
- Reduced risk of heart attack or stroke
- Increased bone density
- Increased muscular endurance and strength
- Improved joint function
- Aid weight loss and reduction in body fat
- Increased metabolic rate
- Reduced likelihood of developing type II diabetes
- Reduced risk of developing some cancers
- Improved activity tolerance
- Reduced injury likelihood during other physical activities
- Promotion of psychological wellbeing
Performance of an appropriate warm up prior to performing cardiovascular exercise is essential to prepare the body for exercise and minimise the likelihood of injury. This should primarily comprise of performance of the type of cardiovascular exercise you are about to perform at low intensity (usually approximately 50% of the target exercise intensity) for approximately 5 – 10 minutes. For example if you are about to go for a run, begin with light jogging, or if you are about to go for a ride, begin riding for 5 – 10 minutes at low intensity.