Cardio Workout Benefits for the Heart

exercise and heart

Back in the 19th century, nobody worried about the cardio workout benefits for the heart. In those days, creature comforts were few and far between. Thus, the basic tasks of daily life became a cardio workout. For example if you lived in Colorado during the late 19th century, your skis were a form of daily transportation. Since there were obviously no chairlifts, you got a good workout on a daily basis. This might explain the relatively low incidence of heart disease in the 1800s.

Lifestyle and Heart Disease

Many of the technological advancements of the 20th and 21st century eliminated our need for physical exertion. Sadly, this has lead to significant increase in deaths from heart disease. Fortunately, a well-designed cardio fitness program may prevent or alleviate some of the conditions that lead to heart disease.

In 1960, Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger devised a study that followed students who had entered college between 1916 and 1950. These students received physicals on entering school. The results of these physicals indicated which students were athletes and which were more sedentary. Paffenbarger sent out questionnaires asking the students about their exercise, smoking and other health habits.

Sweat More: Live Longer

Over the next few decades, Paffenbarger and his colleagues sent out follow up surveys, which asked the students about their general health and exercise habits. His first paper, published in 1966, showed indisputable evidence regarding cardio workout benefits for the heart. Other papers showed that a change of lifestyle, even in midlife, can increase longevity by significantly reduce the risk factors of heart disease.

Exploring the Cardio Workout Benefits for the Heart

According to the American Heart Association, aerobic activity can reduce or eliminate the following risk factors associated with heart disease:

  • Hypertension: Aerobic exercise can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension.
  • Cigarette Smoking: Smokers have a hard time keeping up with aerobic exercise. When they participate in a workout program, they are often inspired to quit.
  • Obesity: Being significantly overweight puts excessive strain on the heart.
  • Diabetes: Overweight individuals are more likely to develop diabetes. Additionally, cardio workouts may decrease insulin dependency for diabetics.
  • High Triglyceride Count: High levels of triglycerides have been linked to coronary artery disease. Aerobic exercise can reduce these levels.
  • Low HDL Counts: The HDL cholesterol is the "hero cholesterol." People with high HDL levels are less likely to develop heart disease. Cardio exercise can increase HDL levels.

Other cardio workout benefits for the heart may include enhanced immunity as well as the ability to maintain an active lifestyle in your "sunset years."

How Aerobic Activity Helps the Heart

triathlon racers

Now that you know how a cardio workout benefits the heart, you might be wondering how it works. During a cardio workout, the large muscles of your arms, legs and hips are in a constant state of motion. You'll notice that your breathing becomes faster and deeper, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood.

As your heart beats faster, it increases the blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Your capillaries widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products. In some cardio workouts, your body may even release endorphins, which are natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being. This sense of well being relieves stress, which is one of the major causes of heart disease.

Cardio exercise helps you live longer and better. Put your heart into your workout, and reap the benefits.

Cardio Research Websites
American Heart Association (800) 242-8721
American College of Sports Medicine (317)637-9200
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Cardio Workout Benefits for the Heart