Cardiovascular exercise describes any form of exercise that causes the heart rate to increase for a significant amount of time. For instance this includes jogging which after the first few minutes has most of us out of breath and gasping for air. What’s happening here is that our body requires more energy than it has readily available, and to get that energy it is burning our fat stores by transporting oxygen to them through our circulatory system. Thus the heart rate increases, requiring extra effort in our cardiovascular system and thus the exercise is called ‘cardio’.
This is very good for the heart of course. The heart is a muscle like any other in your body, and as such it can be trained in the same way to become stronger. It is by exerting it that we are able to make it more powerful and less likely to falter and this thereby helps us prevent risk of heart attack or stroke.
However it’s not just the heart that can benefit from cardiovascular exercise – and actually we can benefit in many other ways from it too. All exercise, but especially CV, can help us to improve our body and mind in numerous ways. Here are some of the others.
Skin Tone: If you exercise regularly you won’t just find it improves your looks by making you leaner and more toned – you’ll also improve your complexion and the general quality of your skin. This is because the increased heart rate can, over time, improve circulation. That in turn means more nutrients to the skin, as well as a more even skin tone (rather than having red blotches on your face). As you workout you also sweat out the toxins that can be trapped in the pores of the skin and this further helps you to avoid blackheads and other blemishes. Someone who works out will find eventually they have a healthy and natural ‘glow’ about them which speaks of their vitality.
VO2 Max: Your VO2 max refers to your ability to draw oxygen out of the air and to use it to power your movements. That means in short that by working out more you can get more oxygen per breath which means you won’t wheeze as much or generally struggle breathing. If you’ve ever struggled to the top of a flight of stairs and been embarrassed to find yourself wheezing at the top, then this is your answer.
Mood: Running causes us to produced endorphins and other happiness hormones that act as a ‘natural antidepressant’. This is why many people refer to the ‘runners’ high’ which is the feeling of euphoria that many runners get immediately after they have gone running. At the same time by helping your body to become more energy efficient you are less likely to feel low on blood sugar and ‘down in the dumps’. More often than not you will feel brimming with energy and full of life.
Intelligence: Apparently CV, moreso that any other form of exercise, can also help you to improve your IQ by improving short term memory, attention and other factors. The precise reasons for this are not yet known, but countless studies have shown that partaking in regular CV exercise can help to improve your performance on various intelligence tests.
Wounds: If you run a lot then you’ll also find your wounds heal faster. This is because running stimulates the production of growth hormone which in turn causes the rebuilding of tissue. You’ll find you’re more likely to muscle up, but also you’ll find you’re more likely to heal more quickly from various wounds. Unfortunately your growth plates close over when you reach 18-21 so you won’t grow in height, but growth hormone has many other very positive benefits.
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Featured photo by flickr user: lululemon atheltica