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Cardiovascular Exercise Principles & Guidelines

by Chad Tackett

For maximum effectiveness and safety, cardiovascular exercise has specific instructions on the frequency, duration, and intensity. These are the three important components of cardiovascular exercise that you really need to understand and implement in your program. In addition, your cardiovascular program should include a warm-up, a cool-down, and stretching of the primary muscles used in the exercise.

This article is part one of a four part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective cardiovascular exercise program. This part will explain the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down and discuss the frequency and duration of a sound cardiovascular routine. The later parts will discuss how to monitor exercise intensity and heart zone training.

Warming Up and Stretching

One very common mistake is stretching before muscles are warmed-up. It is important to stretch after your muscles are warm (after blood has circulated through them). Never stretch a cold muscle. First warm up. A warm-up should be done for at least 5-10 minutes at a low intensity. Usually, the warm-up is done by doing the same activity as the cardiovascular workout but at an intensity of 50-60% of maximum heart rate (max HR). After you've warmed-up for 5-10 minutes at a relatively low intensity, your muscles should be warm. To prevent injury and to improve your performance, you should stretch the primary muscles used in the warm up before proceeding to the cardiovascular exercise.

Cooling Down

The cool down is similar to the warm-up in that it should last 5-10 minutes and be done at a low intensity (50-60% of max HR). After you have completed your cardiovascular exercise and cooled-down properly, it is now important that you stretch the primary muscles being used. Warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down are very important to every exercise session. They not only help your performance levels and produce better results, they also drastically decrease your risk of injury.



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