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Unlocking the Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness

Updated: Mar 24

Discover the incredible advantages of incorporating cardiovascular fitness into your daily routine.


Cardiovascular fitness blog

Hey there, my like-minded friends in fitness! Today we're diving into the world of cardiovascular fitness. You might have heard this term thrown around at the gym or in health articles, but let's break it down so you can understand what it means, why it's so important for your overall health and well-being, how to improve, and why we include it in almost every one of our client's programs.



Understanding Cardiovascular Fitness


Cardiovascular fitness refers to the ability of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscles during physical activity. It is a measure of how efficiently your body can transport and utilize oxygen. A higher cardiovascular fitness level allows you to perform at a medium to high intensity longer. This means you're able to keep up with youngsters, impress at your local run club and better perform those demanding household chores at home.


How We Measure Cardiovascular Fitness


The simplest way is by measuring our workouts and keeping a record of them. We keep track of the exercise (i.e. running), duration and distance, and finally, the intensity at which they're performed (heart rate or perceived effort).

For the more serious goal-orientated client, we measure your cardiovascular fitness through VO2 max tests, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. The higher your VO2 max, the better your cardiovascular fitness. At Hulett Fitness, for those applicable to a maximal output test, we may use the Astrand Treadmill Test to determine your VO2 max. For those not applicable to a maximal output test, we may use The Harvard Step Test to estimate your VO2 max. Regularly reassessing this is a great way to determine our progress related to our cardiovascular fitness.


Warning: Performing these tests should be done alongside a professional who has correctly and thoroughly screened you and deemed it safe to do so.


women performing cardiovascular fitness

Physical Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness


  1. Improved Heart Health: Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise can strengthen your heart muscle, enabling it to pump blood more efficiently throughout your body. This can lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart diseases like heart attacks and strokes.

  2. Weight Management: Cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling, or swimming are effective in burning calories and aiding in weight loss. Combined with a balanced and/or reduced-calorie diet, regular cardio exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions.

  3. Increased Lung Capacity: Aerobic exercises that elevate your heart rate can improve lung function over time. By enhancing your body's ability to utilize oxygen, you can experience increased endurance and reduced feelings of breathlessness during physical activities.

  4. Boosted Metabolism: Cardio workouts can rev up your metabolism, leading to increased calorie burn even when at rest. This can be beneficial for weight management and overall energy expenditure throughout the day.

  5. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Research has shown that individuals who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise have a lower risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and metabolic syndrome.

  6. Reduced Risk of All-Cause Mortality: Yep, you're less likely to die if you possess higher cardiovascular fitness levels. Enough said.

Mental Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness


  1. Boosts Mood: Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to increase the production of endorphins, also known as "feel-good" hormones. These neurotransmitters can help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

  2. Enhances Cognitive Function: Research indicates that regular cardiovascular exercise can improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making skills. It also promotes neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt and grow.

  3. Reduces Stress: Engaging in activities like running, swimming, or cycling can help lower levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. This can lead to a calmer mind and reduced feelings of anxiety.


mental benefits of cardiovascular fitness

Tips for INCORPORATING Cardiovascular Fitness INTO YOUR LIFE


Right, feeling motivated and ready to lace up? Here are 5 tips we like to recommend to our clients, so they hit the ground running in the right direction.


Warning: You should consult your medical or fitness professional before beginning your exercise journey. Exercise may have adverse health effects onto certain individuals. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or short of breath during exercise discontinue and consult your healthcare practitioner.


  1. Start Slow: If you're new to cardiovascular exercise, start with short, low-intensity workouts and gradually increase the duration and intensity. I know it's difficult but ignore that little itch to max out (remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint).

  2. Find an Activity You Enjoy: I despise sitting on a bike in the gym, so I stay away from it and stick to what I love. Whether it's jogging, swimming, cycling, or playing padel, choose a cardio activity that you enjoy making it easier to stick to a regular exercise routine.

  3. Mix it Up: Keep your workouts interesting by alternating between different types of cardio exercises, such as HIIT, running, and biking.

  4. Incorporate Cardio into Your Daily Routine: Walk or bike to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or schedule regular breaks to go for a brisk walk.

  5. Join a Fitness Class: Consider joining a group fitness class like Zumba (try it and get humbled friends), spin, or aerobics to add variety to your workouts and stay motivated.

"EXERCISE SHOULD BE REGARDED AS TRIBUTE TO THE HEART"- GENE TUNNEY (PROFESSIONAL BOXER)

Tips for IMPROVING YOUR Cardiovascular Fitness


Set a Baseline and continue to monitor: the WHO recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75-150 of vigorous-intensity per week for adults aged 18-64. Use these guidelines and set yourself a baseline for management or improvement. Measure things like distance, duration, heart rate and perceived effort. As time passes you will see your body adjust and improve.


Let's use super basic example of a healthy 24-year-old male who enjoys running;

example of cardio baseline

  1. 5-10% increases per week: the most common practice to improve cardiovascular endurance and fitness levels is to increase distance or duration 5-10% per week. Try this for 3 weeks and then de-load in the 4th week back to what you did in the first week. Then start again and continue to repeat,

  2. Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Sprint Interval Training (SIT): HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods. Similarly, SIT involves short 10-30 second sprints in your chosen cardio form, followed by 2-3 minutes rest. This type of training effectively improves cardiovascular fitness in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional steady-state cardio. Research by the NCBI found that HIIT can boost cardiovascular health and endurance significantly. Plus, it's really fun!

  3. Prioritize Strength Training: Don't forget to include strength training in your workout routine. Building muscle can enhance your metabolism, burn more calories, and improve your cardiovascular health. It will also reduce your risk to injury when performing cardiovascular exercises. We aim for two to three strength training sessions per week, targeting major muscle groups.

  4. Stay Consistent with Your Workouts: Consistency is key when it comes to improving cardiovascular fitness. Make exercise a regular part of your routine. We like to set achievable goals and create a workout schedule that works for and motivates you. According to the American Heart Association, consistency in physical activity is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health.

  5. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Fuelling your body with the right nutrients is essential for cardiovascular health, fuelling your workouts and recovery. Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. We monitor nutrient timing and macronutrient intake as this has a direct impact on our results. Hydration is also crucial, so drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support your workouts and overall well-being. We take this one seriously!

  6. Get Sufficient Rest and Recovery: Rest is just as important as exercise when it comes to improving cardiovascular fitness. Make sure to get enough sleep to allow your body to recover and repair. Overtraining can lead to burnout and injury, so listen to your body and incorporate rest days into your routine.


how to improve cardio

Conclusion


In conclusion, enhancing your cardiovascular fitness is essential for maintaining a healthy body, mind, and overall well-being. By incorporating enjoyable cardiovascular exercises, HIIT, strength training, consistency, monitoring progress, healthy eating, rest, and seeking support when needed, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness levels and lead a healthier life. Start implementing these tips today to boost your cardiovascular fitness and enjoy the benefits of a stronger heart, head, and improved endurance.


So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us and let's lace up your sneakers, hit the pavement, and start working on improving your cardiovascular fitness today!





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