WHAT IS CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING?

 

Cardiovascular training is physical exercise that benefits the circulatory system otherwise known as the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, lungs and connecting blood vessels, therefore when you perform this type of training you are essentially training the system to become stronger and more efficient, making it an important area to train to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How do you know what a healthy Cardiovascular system looks like?

Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate (RHR) is the first measurement that can be taken to further understand how fit or healthy your cardiovascular system is.

Measured by the number of heartbeats in 60 seconds, with a stronger heart having to perform fewer beats (Heart contractions) to pump blood around the body. A normal heart rate range is between 60-100 beats per minute.

Measuring your resting heart rate can be simply done by checking your pulse or more effectively by a heart rate monitoring machine, taken after a minimum of 5 minutes of being rested to ensure a more accurate reading (1).

Blood Pressure

Recorded with 2 numbers, blood pressure has a systolic reading (higher number) which is the recorded pressure when the heart pumps blood around the body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels while the heart is it rest.

Ideal blood pressure: 90/60mmHG - 120/80mmHg

High blood pressure: 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)

A healthier cardiovascular system will also lower your blood pressure similarly to your resting heart rate (2,3).

Benefits Of Cardiovascular Training

Performing cardiovascular training will help keep your cardiovascular system in a healthier place but that's not the only benefit (3,4).

  • It improves heart strength. 
  • Increases lung capacity.
  • Improves cholesterol ratios (lowers LDL bad cholesterol and raises HDL, good cholesterol).
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes. 
  • Bodyweight management through calories burned during Cardiovascular exercise.
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke risk, chest pain (angina).
  • Improved asthma symptoms. 
  • Stress management.
  • Enhances mood. 
  • Aids sleep.
  • Immune system support.
  • Brain functioning.
  • Reduce risk of injury (improved balance, agility, muscle strength and joint health).

Recommendations

150 minutes of moderate exercise should be completed per week to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Splitting this up over the week into multiple sessions is generally the best route with sessions performed on non-consecutive days.

Cardiovascular exercise doesn't just have to be in a gym but simply walking outside, hiking, brisk walking, swimming and other activities are a great tool to use however finding the most suitable types of exercise for each individual is important to maintain safety (5).

Your target heart rate should be between 50% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. Subtract your age from 220 to get your approximate maximum heart rate which would then give you a number to work off to find your target heart rates to work between.

Knowing the specific numbers isn't exactly necessary every time you exercise, but exercising frequently to help improve your health factors is (6) and getting your health markers checked by professionals is important.

If you haven't exercised for a longer period of time make sure you check with your doctor or local GP before attempting any physical exercise.

Resources

1.  https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/how-a-healthy-heart-works/your-heart-rate

2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/

3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-pressure-test/

4. https://peerj.com/articles/891/

5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1586/14737175.9.2.147

6. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/

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