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Cardiovascular Exercises

Cardiovascular training involves strengthening the heart and lungs by working the cardio vascular system. The heart, being a muscle, needs exercise to function efficiently. The normal mild beating it performs in day to day life is not enough. The heart like any other muscle has to be driven harder if it is to be stimulated to be strengthened. Many cardiologists also believe that exercising the heart also increases its efficiency. That is, the heart's main function (pumping blood) is done at a lower cost (fewer beats per minute). That can supposedly improve your chances of surviving a heart attack.

During exercise, the blood vessels that feed the heart open wider and the concentration of cholestrol within the blood decreases. Both these actions may cut down the fat accumulations within the blood vessels, accumulations that might cause a heart attack or stroke. Exercise may also help stimulate the formation of new blood vessels that can supply it with blood. It also tones the body's blood vessels, usually reducing blood pressure - an important factor in heart attacks.

Activities such as running, jogging, road marching, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, stair climbing, and jumping rope place an extra demand on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. During exercise, these systems attempt to supply oxygen to the working muscles. Most of this oxygen is used to produce energy for muscular contraction. Any activity that continuously uses large muscle groups for 20 minutes or longer taxes these systems. Because of this, a wide variety of training methods is used to improve cardiorespiratory endurance.

Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to produce most of the body's energy needs. It also brings into play a fairly complex set of physiological events.To provide enough energy-producing oxygen to the muscles, the following events occur:

  • Greater movement of air through the lungs.
  • Increased movement of oxygen from the lungs into the blood stream.
  • Increased delivery of oxygen-laden blood to the working muscles by the heart's accelerated pumping action.
  • Regulation of the blood vessel's size to distribute blood away from inactive tissue to working muscle.
  • Greater movement of oxygen from the blood into the muscle tissue.
  • Accelerated return of veinous blood to the heart.


  • Correctly performed over time, aerobic exercise can lead to positive changes in the body's cardio respitory system. These changes allow the heart and vascular systems to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles during exercise. Also, those muscles regularly used during aerobic exercise undergo positive changes. By using more oxygen, these changes let the muscles make and use more energy during exercise and, as a result, the muscles can work longer and harder. During maximum aerobic exercise, the trained person has an increased maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max). They are better able to process oxygen and fuel and can therefore provide more energy to the working muscles.

    Any condition that reduces the body's ability to bring in, transport, or use oxygen reduces a person's ability to perform aerobically. Inactivity causes much of the decrease in physical fitness that occurs with increasing age. Some of this decrease in aerobic fitness can be slowed by taking part in a regular exercise program. Certain medical conditions also impair the transport of oxygen. They include diseases of the lungs, which interfere with breathing, and disabling heart conditions. Another is severe blocking of the arteries which inhibits blood flow to the heart and skeletal muscles. Smoking can lead to any or all of the above problems and can, in the long and short term, adversely affect one's ability to do aerobic exercise.

    You can also refer to these helpful articles dealing with common cardiovascular/aerobic training issues:

  • Cardiovascular Exercise Principles & Guidelines
  • Role of Aerobic Exercise in Getting and Keeping You Lean
  • Buying Fitness Equipment On eBay
  • Abdominal Exercises and Workouts
  • Heart Rate Monitors


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