Why Your Cardiovascular Fitness Matters

This is why your cardiovascular fitness matters

Your cardiovascular fitness is a key indicator of your overall health. Allow us to explain why it matters and why improving it should form the basis of any truly holistic fitness routine you wish to undertake.

 

CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS IS, quite simply, the cornerstone of complete health and wellbeing. It’s the engine that powers your body, ensuring that your heart and lungs function optimally, powering your workouts. 

Understanding and prioritising your level of cardiovascular fitness is just as important as taking care of other forms of conditioning. You wouldn’t attempt a bench press personal best with an aching shoulder, so why would you do it if your cardiovascular fitness isn’t up to scratch? Cardiovascular fitness might not be the first area that comes to mind when preparing for a particularly taxing workout, but it should be. The impact of improving cardiovascular fitness can be extensive and far-reaching.

If this is the first time the importance of cardiovascular fitness has occurred to you, don’t worry. We’ll help you understand it and provide a variety of practical tips to boost it.

 

What is cardiovascular fitness?

Cardiovascular fitness, occasionally called aerobic fitness or more simply, cardio, refers to the ability of your cardiovascular system to efficiently transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs while removing waste products. It can be measured by tracking your heart rate during exercise. Someone with good cardiovascular fitness will be able to keep their heart rate low and steady during periods of strenuous exercise, and subsequently be able to exercise for longer. It’s as good a test of your overall fitness as there ever was. 

To understand cardiovascular fitness in practice, consider that while a bulked-up powerlifter with an outsized physique may be able to lift heavy, they could struggle in comparison to a guy who goes on a tri-weekly run if it came to a test of cardiovascular fitness. Such tests prioritise endurance and stamina over short bursts of energy—and big muscles. Hence why a veritable gym junkie who pumps iron almost everyday might not be as fit as someone who pounds the pavement with consistency.

While cardiovascular fitness is a good indicator of overall health, it isn’t the only indicator. Overall health ultimately depends on the relationship between your cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular and skeletal systems.

Why is cardiovascular fitness important?

Cardiovascular fitness is important in the same way that fitness in general is important. As even the most remotely health-conscious person will know, strong personal fitness is necessary if you want to live a long and healthy life—and cardiovascular fitness plays a pivotal part in that. 

The impact of improving cardiovascular fitness can be felt across many different areas of health. Let’s break them down.

Heart Health:

Cardiovascular fitness strengthens your heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood and reducing the risk of heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

Lung Function:

Regular cardiovascular exercise improves lung capacity and oxygen exchange, which can prevent respiratory issues and increase your stamina.

Weight Management:

An obvious benefit here. Engaging in exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness can help you burn calories, aiding in weight management and reducing the risk of obesity.

Mood Enhancement:

Cardiovascular workouts trigger the release of endorphins, which can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, improving your overall mental health.

Energy Levels:

Improved cardiovascular fitness means your body can efficiently utilise oxygen, giving you more energy to carry out daily activities.

Quality of Life:

In case you weren’t already convinced of its supreme importance, strong cardiovascular fitness is even linked to a higher quality of life and increased longevity.

How can you improve your cardiovascular fitness?

 

 

Now that we understand the importance of cardiovascular fitness, let’s dive into how you can improve it. Here’s our comprehensive guide to improving cardiovascular fitness.

Start slowly:

If you’re entirely unfamiliar with cardio exercise and don’t know how to get started, begin with low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. The same goes for those already experienced in cardio workouts. The journey to improved cardiovascular fitness doesn’t begin with a sudden jolt into far more intense exercise, but with a steady rise.

Set realistic goals:

It’s important not to set your sights too high, at least at the start. Establish clear fitness goals and create a plan that includes both short-term and long-term objectives.

Mix it up:

Variety is key to maintaining motivation and challenging your body. Include a mix of activities to keep things interesting, or you could risk boredom becoming your biggest barrier to success.

Consistency is key:

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Going all out in a single, sweat-swamping session each week isn’t going to yield beneficial long-term results.

Monitor your heart rate:

Invest in a heart rate monitor to ensure you’re working out in the right heart rate zone. This helps you maximise the benefits of your workouts and avoid overexertion.

Strength training:

Incorporate strength training into your routine to complement your cardiovascular workouts. Strong muscles can improve overall endurance and performance. And no, cardio won’t kill your gains.

Listen to your body:

Pay attention to your body’s signals. Rest when needed, stay hydrated, and fuel your body with a balanced diet to support your cardiovascular fitness journey.

Get professional guidance:

If you’re unsure of where to start, or aren’t getting the desired results, consider consulting with a fitness trainer or healthcare professional for a personalised plan.

What are good cardiovascular exercises?

Technically, anything that gets your heart rate up can be counted as cardiovascular exercise, but some methods are far more effective than others.

Outside of the gym, running is an effective, easy to do exercise that is almost guaranteed to deliver improved cardiovascular fitness. Swimming will do the same, with the added benefit of a lower impact on your ailing body. Walking and cycling can also produce positive results.

In the gym, it’s all about the equipment. Spending time on a treadmill, elliptical machine, stair climber, rowing machine, or an exercise bike will no doubt work some magic.

At home, further simple steps can be taken to improving cardiovascular fitness. Squat jumps, burpees, lumping jacks, and even jumping rope can all be done from the comfort of your living room and, if performed consistently, will go a long way for your cardiovascular fitness. 

By investing in regular cardio and following these tips, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying a healthier heart, improved lung function, better mental health, and a higher quality of life. Remember, it’s never too late to start your journey toward better cardiovascular fitness. So get moving today, your heart will thank you for it.

Cayle Reid

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything health and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or waking up early to watch sports in incompatible time zones.

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