Cardiovascular health, put simply, is the health of your heart. You know that big muscle in the left-middle of your chest? Yes, it’s a muscle, like your quads or biceps, but the heart is your most important muscle in your body. Nothing else works without it.
What Does the Heart Do?
That rhythmic beating, your pulse rate, is a tangible symbol of what this muscle is doing all the time: pumping blood around your body. At the same time, blood flow is also transporting oxygen to every system. This includes other muscles, the brain, and organs.
Good circulation provides energy, allows your body to heal itself with natural cellular regeneration, and also keeps your brain feeling sharp so you can focus. Poor circulation caused by a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and illness reduces blood and oxygen flow.
The result can be feelings of fatigue, weakness, and even loss of life to extremities leading to amputation. This is a common problem among individuals with diabetes. Poor circulation can cause dizziness or problems with sight, either of which might result in injury.
What Is Cardio Fitness?
This is any exercise that gets your heart pumping. Usually, people associate this with jogging/running, brisk walking, cycling, or aerobics. Using large muscles to lift weights or perform squats (your butt and quad muscles) also causes a rise in blood flow and cardio performance, especially if combined with an active exercise like moving side to side.
Combination moves are popular as they efficiently promote increases in strength and cardio health at the same time. Your heart rate must rise within its safe level for a period of 20 minutes or so in order to be reaching the minimum boundaries of what would be called “cardio exercise,” preferably 3 to 7 days every week.
How Does a Person Improve Cardio Health?
As with any muscle, the heart can be strengthened or permitted to atrophy. It is also prone to injury caused by doing nothing and suddenly going for a run without a warm-up. You can pull a hamstring doing that; your heart could suddenly reject your plan too unless you are already very fit.
With this in mind, a less athletic individual whose fitness is in dire need of improvement should start small. Begin with light exercise, 20 minutes daily, and do not begin at your top pace. Stretch a little to initiate blood flow, about five minutes before setting out or hopping onto a piece of equipment in your home.
Gradually build up speed and your heart rate. Wear a heart monitor which records pulse rate at your wrist or put on a strap and wear a connecting fitness watch or carry an app with you to stay connected with your body’s stresses and needs. If using a machine, this will usually record and display your heart rate.
This muscle, your heart, will slowly become stronger. It will move blood and oxygen more efficiently around your body if you consistently exercise, so you won’t become breathless as quickly. You can increase the duration and intensity of what you are doing. Don’t rush things, and remember to combine exercise with rest and good food.
Set-backs to Cardio Health
If you are working out regularly and increasing fitness, can something still go wrong? There are a few reasons why the heart might still suffer injury in spite of your best efforts.
One is if you are genetically predisposed to heart problems. Accompanying exercise with the same old fatty diet puts your heart at risk. Stress can cause problems like stroke or heart attack, so find ways to relax and don’t push too hard with your new regimen.
Rest properly, getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you aren’t sure you can do all of this without support, talk to a trainer or visit your doctor.