What is Cardiovascular Fitness?
Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the body to generate energy through the circulation of blood and oxygen to the muscles of the body. Exercise increases the strength and endurance of the heart, allowing more blood to be pumped to the muscles whilst increasing oxygen distribution to the tissues of the body.
Cardiovascular fitness reduces, amongst other conditions, the incidence of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and is important for a sense of overall physical and mental wellbeing.
How do I get started?
- Before commencing any exercise program it is important to see your GP to ensure there are no medical issues that need addressing
- Set goals. Be specific and realistic and give yourself a time frame
- Set aside a time to exercise each day and make it a habit. Accountability is important, tell your family and friends so they can encourage you or even better, find a training partner
- Start slowly and build up. Going too hard too soon is difficult to sustain and increases the likelihood of you giving up. Remember, you are trying to make a long term lifestyle change
How hard do I need to Exercise? (Think FITT)
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following guidelines.
F: Frequency: 3 – 5 times per week
I: Intensity: 50-85% of your maximum heart rate (HRmax). A rough method for working out your maximum heart rate is 220 – your age. For example, to work out 65% HRmax if you are 40 years old: (220-40)*0.65=117 beats per minute. A simpler method is to use the ‘talk test’ where you maintain an intensity where you can talk, but not sing.
T: Time: 20 – 60 minutes
T: Type: Continuous exercise involving large muscle groups e.g. walking, running, swimming or bike riding.
Don’t forget the rest
Muscle strengthening and flexibility are also important components to your exercise regime. A physiotherapist can help tailor a fitness program specific to your needs.