running

Most probably, you already have an idea how important good health and well-being is. So you try to keep an exercise routine to keep you in shape. But have you thought how crucial is cardiovascular fitness to the overall state of your body?

Physical fitness is comprised of several components including flexibility, low-back function, muscular strength and endurance. However, what’s often considered as the most important of these fitness elements is aerobic or cardiovascular fitness.

Aerobic fitness can be measured as the amount of oxygen within the blood pumped by the heart towards functioning muscles and also as the ability of these muscles to efficiently use the transported oxygen. Increasing aerobic fitness means developing the heart’s as well as the cardiovascular system’s capability of supplying energy and oxygen to the body.

There are many benefits to keeping good aerobic fitness. It doesn’t only allow the efficient functioning of the body but also decreases the risk to various cardiovascular diseases such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes; and
  • stroke

Cardiovascular fitness can be improved by engaging in activities that require the dynamic use of large groups of muscles. Most effective are:

  • brisk walking
  • jogging
  • swimming
  • running
  • cycling
  • skating
  • skiing; and
  • stair climbing

Jogging with our iPhones...

Like other muscles functioning within the body, the heart can grow more efficient and stronger only after practice. The heart rate measures the heart’s work. When at rest, an average healthy heart beats around 70 times per minute. A conditioned heart, on the other hand, beats much lesser, only around 40-50 times per minute, sometimes, even less. This variability of the heart rate is a measure of quality for the heart’s work. The lower your resting heart rate is, the higher your heart’s rate variability, which translates to better quality of your heart’s functions.

It is important to note that aerobic fitness may also be relative to gender, age, exercise habits, cardiovascular clinical status and heredity. The maximum values typically occur between the ages 15-30 and will decrease progressively with aging. So it’s recommended that starting young in your cardiovascular training is a must to make the most out of it.

photos by: cumi&ciki & Ed Yourdon