Most people know that they should workout, but why is cardiovascular fitness important?
What Is Cardiovascular Fitness?
Before you can answer the question, "why is cardiovascular fitness important?", you need to understand the meaning of cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is often called aerobic exercise. There are two factors that distinguish cardiovascular fitness from other types of exercise.
- Cardiovascular fitness enhances the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles.
- Cardiovascular fitness enhances the muscle's ability to use this oxygen to supply adequate energy for movement.
What Activities Enhance Cardiovascular Fitness?
Aerobic exercise can enhance cardiovascular fitness. The words aerobic exercise define any type of rhythmic, continuous activity that involves the simultaneous use of multiple large muscle groups. Aerobic activities challenge the heart and lungs, thereby causing them to work harder than at rest. When performing cardiovascular fitness activities, your pulse must be in a target heart range, which is usually calculated by subtracting your age from the number 220 and then calculating 60 to 85 percent of that number. Examples of aerobic exercises include:
- Running or jogging
- Brisk walking
- Aerobic dance
- Cross-country skiing
Why Is Cardiovascular Fitness Important?
The primary importance of cardiovascular fitness becomes evident when you look at its definition. Any type of activity that will supply oxygen to the muscles will increase energy levels as well as make your body more functional and efficient. This is just one of the many benefits of cardiovascular fitness.
Cardiovascular Fitness and Longevity
Researchers involved in the Harvard Health Alumni Study, which was published in the April, 1995 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered a distinct link between cardiovascular fitness and longevity. The subjects were male, Harvard University alumni, who were not suffering from any form of heart or pulmonary disease. The study participants recorded their physical activities on a questionnaire. This was a longitudinal study, which means that data was collected throughout the years. The researchers found that the subjects who had the highest level of aerobic activity had the highest rate of longevity.
Cardiovascular Fitness and Immunity
Studies performed at the Center for the Biopsychosocial Studies of AIDS at the University of Miami found that aerobic exercise had a "profound impact" on managing the symptoms of AIDS patients. Another study, which was performed at the Physical Fitness Research Laboratory in the University of Illinois found that aerobic exercise had a positive effect on the immune function of the elderly.
Aerobic Exercise and Weight Loss
Despite the many false claims about spot reduction, the only way to get a smaller stomach and slimmer thighs is to reduce the intake of dietary fat and burn excess fat through aerobic exercise. Keep in mind that it takes a reduction of 3500 calories to lose one pound of body fat. This might explain why the American College of Sports Medicine recently updated their guidelines for aerobic activity. They now suggest that 30 minutes to one hour activity of cardiovascular activity be performed on most days of the week. Fortunately, your body continues to burn calories at an accelerated pace for up to two hours after aerobic activity.
Other Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness
In general, people with a high level of cardiovascular fitness have lower blood pressure, low levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol and high levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol. They have more stamina and energy, and the endorphins, which are secreted during aerobic exercise improve their mood. In most cases, people who frequently participate in cardiovascular fitness programs have a lower resting pulse, which makes them feel calmer when at rest.