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The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Simply stated, the health benefits of getting into a good cardiovascular state are numerous. Cardiovascular exercise means that you're involved in an activity that raises your heart rate to a level where you're definitely working, but can still talk. You just wouldn't want to sing!

A few Reasons why cardio is so important:

* It's one way to burn calories and help you lose weight
* It makes your heart strong so that it doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood
* It increases your lung capacity
* It helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes
* It makes you feel good
* It helps you sleep better
* It helps reduce stress

What is considered Cardio Exercise?

In order to illicit a change in the body one needs to stress their body to a state where the heart is beating at a rate equivalent to at least 75% of your age predicted maximum heart rate with an aim to getting to 85%. BUT, When First starting (or Re-starting) a cardio program it is important that you do not try to overdue it. It takes time for the body to make changes and by overdoing it you put your body at risk, never mind not enjoying the exercise.

Choose an activity that you enjoy doing. It doesn't have to be getting on to an elliptical machine or treadmill (unless you enjoy doing that). Depending on your fitness level lots of activites can get your heart beating. You could run outside, ride a bike, climb stairs, go swimming, inline skating, go for a hike, play tennis, etc. I'm sure you can think of some activities that can get your heart rate up and keep it up. The time you spend will vary depending on the intensity that you are working at but in general you will want to strive for 30-90 minutes on most days with the bare minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you find it too difficult to go for 30 minutes all at once, break it up. Do 15 minutes at one time and then 15 again later that day. But you should try to get to a point where 30 minutes of continuous exercise can be easily maintained.

The Intensity with which you exercise can be determined by working on a the scale of 10, where 1 is basically doing nothing and 10 is going all out. You will want to try to get to a 6-8. If you have a workout partner, the easiest way to determine your intensity is to talk with your workout partner. If you are working out so hard that you can't keep a conversation going because you are too out of breath then you are working to hard. You should be exerting yourself but not making yourself miserable! Remember you want to make this a part of your lifestyle and you will not do that if you hate it.

Keep in mind that doing too much cardio is a no-no as well and can actually backfire. There is a point of diminishing returns, so keep it reasonable (3-6 days a week, depending on your fitness level), vary your intensity and don't forget to take rest days when needed.

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Doing activity that requires moderate effort is safe for most people. But if you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, or other symptoms be sure to talk with your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.

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