Total Cardio Fitness: What is It, the Benefits, and How to Improve It

Updated on August 21, 2020

Your heart is perhaps the most important organ in your body. Every day, it pumps about 2000 gallons of nutrient-rich blood to the rest of your body to keep you alive.

Because of this, we need to do everything we can to keep our hearts healthy. The best part is, taking steps to improve your heart health will improve your overall health as well!

One of the best ways to maintain optimal health is by working on your cardio fitness. And we’re here to help you do that!

To learn everything you need to know about cardio fitness and how to improve it, just keep reading.

What is Cardio Fitness?

Cardio fitness is actually short for cardiovascular fitness, otherwise known as aerobic fitness. Your cardiovascular system is made up of your heart, blood vessels, and blood, and is how your organs receive the nutrients they need to function.

Cardiovascular fitness refers to your body’s ability to absorb, transport, and disperse oxygen while you exercise and is vital for good health. It can be quantified by measuring your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use.

As you become fitter and your body acclimates itself to exercise, your body improves its ability to consume oxygen, and your VO2 max increases. Remember, your heart is made up of muscle. Just as the muscles you can see become stronger through exercise, so does your heart.

Benefits of Aerobic Fitness

Thankfully, your heart works on its own, no mental or physical effort required. Because of this, however, it can be easy to take it for granted.

But there’s a reason that health organizations such as the CDC and the American Heart Association recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Improving your aerobic fitness comes with a wealth of benefits!

1. Boosts Your Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death across all genders and races in the United States. Because about 25% of deaths are the result of heart disease, the importance of heart health cannot be overstated. If you’re interested in learning more about heart failure, you can know more here.

Cardio exercise strengthens your heart and helps to make it more efficient.

2. Regulates Blood Pressure and Sugar

Along with keeping the heart itself healthy, cardiovascular exercise also works on the other parts of the cardiovascular system. Exercise helps to both lower your blood pressure and regulate your blood sugar.

With a healthy diet and strong fitness routine, you can even prevent or reverse the onset of type 2 diabetes!

3. Strengthens Your Brain

As you age, your brain naturally begins to lose tissue and becomes weaker because of it. But you don’t have to accept this as an inevitability! Exercise can slow this process, keeping your brain strong and sharp throughout your entire life.

4. Supports Quality Sleep

Sleep is the foundation upon which good health is built. If you don’t get adequate sleep, both your physical and mental health will suffer. To promote a healthy mind and body, it’s important to get between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep every night.

If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, exercise can help! For improved sleep, try to exercise at least two hours before bed. Exercise releases energy-boosting chemicals in your brain, so you don’t want to do it too close to bedtime.

5. Improves Mental Health

Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are all too common. If you suffer with either, you’re not alone! But with proper diet and exercise, you might find that these are a thing of the past.

Exercise has a massive impact on your mood and overall mental health. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to significantly improve how you feel on a daily basis.

How to Improve Cardio Fitness

Depending on your level of fitness, you might need to consult a physician before beginning a workout regimen. If you’re severely overweight or have been sedentary for many years, you’ll need to exercise caution when you first get started. Your doctor can help guide you in the right direction!

However, assuming your doctor has given you the green light, you can start working on your cardio fitness today!

Which Exercises Are Best?

First, you need to pick exercises that you enjoy doing. If you don’t like running, don’t force yourself to do it. It’s better to choose something that you’ll look forward to doing, you’re much more likely to stick to your new routine.

There are tons of aerobic exercises out there. You can hike, swim, bike, dance, even just going for a walk around the neighborhood in the evening! Any exercise is better than no exercise at all.

It’s a good idea to have multiple options to choose from. Your body is highly capable of adapting. Only doing one type of exercise will begin to lose its effectiveness over time if you never mix it up.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

Don’t overdo it! You might have to start slow and that’s okay. Start with 10 minutes a day, and if that’s all you can do without overexerting yourself, don’t worry, you’ll improve.

Try to work up to 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. Even those at peak fitness levels should take a day or two off to avoid injury!

Keep Your Heart Healthy to Maintain Good Health Overall

You cannot achieve optimal health without a healthy heart. Taking the time and effort to improve your cardio fitness might feel like a hassle at first, but you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel once you get going.

When you look and feel fantastic, have more energy, and are able to truly enjoy life well into your later years, you’ll thank yourself for making the change.

For more tips on improving your health through exercise and nutrition, be sure to take a look at our blog!

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