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Cardiovascular Excercise

What is cardiovascular exercise? Any activity that uses aerobic metabolism.

What is aerobic metabolism? Activity in which oxygen is heavily involved in the cellular reactions that produce the energy to sustain the activity.

Wow!  That’s a mouthful!  A simpler way of defining cardiovascular exercise is endurance exercise: “Vigorous activity that increases heart rate and breathing”. Think of repetitive and rhythmic movement of large muscles; sweat; deep breathing… sound familiar?  You may already be engaging in cardiovascular exercise on an occasional or on a regular basis.  Perhaps you are considering beginning this type of physical activity.  

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend a minimum of 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity). Ideally, endurance exercise sessions lasting 20 minutes or more are recommended to sustain an increased heart rate, but shorter sessions are also beneficial. Every minute counts!

Before starting an exercise program, check with your healthcare provider as to individual recommendations and guidelines. As you work toward the recommended goal for aerobic activity, begin slowly and increase minutes and/or intensity gradually, listening to your body. Utilize the “talk test” to monitor exertion:  You should be able to talk, but not sing.

Need ideas? Walking is free and no special equipment is needed.  This may be a great place to start!  Five or ten minutes of walking after each meal can help curb the appetite and metabolize blood sugar. Want to socialize?  Grab a friend or join a walking group.  A variety of endurance exercise opportunities can be found at gyms and health clubs. Many facilities offer classes such as Zumba, kickboxing, cardio-dance, and interval training.  Biking, swimming, water aerobics, tennis, pickle ball, racquet ball, and team sports such as basketball can add variety to your cardiovascular routine.  Consider machines: treadmills, stair climbing machines, ski machines, rowing machines, and elliptical trainers are fun options.

How will you benefit from cardiovascular activity? Heart, lungs, mood, energy, sleep, blood sugar, blood pressure, weight management, and body composition are just a few areas that benefit from regular endurance exercise.  Choose something you enjoy, and let’s get started!


American Council on Exercise, www/

Physical Activity Guideline for Americans:

Harvard Health Letter, February 2017, July 2015 issue                                                   

About the author

Leslee Blanch

Leslee Blanch is a registered dietitian and group fitness instructor with a passion to promote wellness for individuals and for the community. As a Family and Consumer Sciences associate educator with University of Idaho Extension in Bonneville County, she offers a variety of wellness topics, including nutrition, fitness, and mental/emotional well-being.

Registered Dietitian
Certified Group Fitness Instructor

Family and Consumer Sciences Associate Extension Educator

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