Cardio Exercise – Why it is Critical, What it Does For You and How to Do it Right


Is The Number One Killer Catching Up To You?

It happens in an instant. Your life changes forever-if you survive. The Killer strikes every 2.2 seconds; killing without regard for race, gender or creed. The killer is Coronary Heart Disease.

Here is a quick anatomy refresher. Your heart is a muscular pump. It pumps blood to each and every one of the 72 trillion (give or take a few trillion) cells in your body. Your heart pushes blood through a closed system of vessels. As your blood leaves your heart it goes into arteries. One of these arteries is your coronary artery, the artery which delivers blood to your heart. If this artery gets blocked, the blood flow to your heart stops and so does your heart.

So, how do you escape this killer?

In order to outrun this killer, you have got to be out running, or jogging, or walking, or doing some type of cardiovascular exercise. If you would like to avoid a heart attack and maybe lose some weight, cardio is critical. The most important reason to do cardiovascular exercise isn’t to strengthen your heart muscle. Your heart is already pretty strong. The real life-changing reason to do cardio is for those arteries that bring blood to your heart and for the even smaller blood vessels called capillaries.

Capillaries are so small that red blood cells have to go through single file. Capillaries are where all the action takes place. It is at this level where all the nutrients from the blood, important things like oxygen and food, are delivered to the cells. When you do cardio on a regular basis you increase the number of capillaries feeding your heart muscle. That keeps your heart supplied with all it needs to keep on beating for you.

Also, doing cardio on a regular basis will help to keep the fatty plaques caused by eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a minimum. When you do cardio, you send a signal to your body to produce a whole host of anti-inflammatory compounds. These help to reduce the inflammation in your arteries and keep those fatty plaques to a minimum.

Other Side Effects of Cardio

Ok, so cardio helps keep your heart healthy through a variety of ways; what are some of the other benefits (Side effects)?

o Fat loss o Your mood improves o Your energy levels go up, way up o Your self-esteem increases o Your overall health and vitality increase

These are just a few of the benefits of aerobic exercise. Not too bad, huh?

Keep reading to make sure you are doing cardio at the right intensity and for the right amount of time. Before we go on let’s define cardiovascular exercise. Cardio, also known as cardiovascular exercise, and aerobic exercise, is defined as the continuous rhythmic movement of large muscles. Walking, running, jogging, cycling, stair climbing and swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise.

Are You Ready To Look And Feel Amazing?

You want to prevent a heart attack. You want to lose weight. You want to improve your health. You have decided to start doing cardio. How long, how often and how intensely should you do cardio?

If you aren’t currently doing anything for your cardiovascular fitness, a 5-10 minute walk everyday of the week might be the perfect place to start. Check with your physician before you start your cardio program.

Something is better than nothing. Anything more than you are doing now is an improvement.

Just For the Health of It

o How Long: Accumulate 30 minutes o How Intense: Light to moderate intensity o How Often: Most, if not all days of the week

To improve your health and reduce your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends accumulating 30 minutes of light to moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. This would be something like taking a 15 minute dog walk in the morning and then going for a stroll with a significant other for 15 minutes in the evening.

For Fitness and Fat Burning

o How Long: 20-60 continuous minutes o How Intense: Moderate intensity o How Often: 3-5 days a week for fitness, 5-7 days a week for fat burning

To improve your cardiovascular fitness level, the ACSM recommends 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of continuous activity at a moderate intensity. To speed up fat loss they recommend doing cardio 5-7 days a week.

This might be achieved by speed walking, a light jog, a fast bike ride or a challenging swim.

Note: Light intensity would be comparable to a stroll in the park where you can carry on a conversation with a friend. Moderate intensity would be comparable to a brisk walk where carrying on a conversation is a little more challenging.

Ready, Set, Go!

If you are ready burn fat and improve your cardiovascular fitness and you have your physician’s “OK”, do cardio 4-7 days per week at intensity levels of 55-85% (depending on your health status and fitness level) of your maximum heart rate, for 20-60 continuous minutes. If you are just starting out, stay at a lower intensity – 55-65% of your heart rate maximum. If you have been doing cardio for a while, you might be able to work at intensities between 65-85% of your heart rate maximum.

Your Heart Rate Maximum

You can determine your maximum heart rate by using this simple formula:

For women, 226-your age = Age predicted maximum heart rate. For men: 220-your age = Age predicted maximum heart rate. For example: A 36 year old female has an age predicted maximum heart rate of 190 (226-36=190). Therefore, she would want to exercise for 20-60 continuous minutes at a heart rate of 104 to 161 beats per minute. For more help designing a cardio program specifically for you, consult your physician and your personal trainer.

Take Away Tips:

Make time to do cardio if you want to outrun the number one killer, coronary heart disease. Do the right type of cardio for you. Ideally, something you enjoy.

Do cardio at the right intensity (percentage of heart rate maximum) for you and track your heart rate with a wrist watch heart rate monitor.

Do something active everyday. You heart will love it.

Derrick deLay, B.Sc. is a weight loss and wellness expert. He is an NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and ACE Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant. Derrick is committed to making the world a leaner, healthier place. He specializes in working with people who are dissatisfied with the way they look and feel and are ready to feel healthy, vibrant and alive. Derrick is also a fitness and wellness presenter and his peers chose him as Northwest Personal Training’s Personal Trainer of the Year in 2005. Derrick may be contacted at [] a free resource for weight loss and wellness success, or [] for weight loss and wellness coaching.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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