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The benefits of cardiovascular exercise

By CAROLYN EVAN-WATKINS [email protected]

Carolyn Evan-Watkins is a sports, fitness and Pilates instructor with more than 15 years experience. She is a lecturer, teaching and assessing instructors in health and fitness. Carolyn has also been a Government advisor, and still writes and presents her own courses within this field. She moved to the Algarve last year and teaches Pilates classes in Vale do Lobo and Boliqueime.

Last month we looked at what exactly cardiovascular exercise was.  This month we will find out what benefits this form of exercise programme can have for you and your body.

You instantly start to feel better and have increased confidence.  Find some form of cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy. This will not only mean you will have fun and de-stress while making your body more efficient, but it will hopefully help you to maintain your fitness programme.  Look forward to your training sessions, rather than think of them as a ‘chore’ that has to be endured.

The heart is a muscle that needs to be trained regularly, and if you do this you will improve the health and efficiency of your heart, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular exercise is encouraged for people who suffer with heart problems and have had heart attacks. The main factors associated with heart disease are high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, high blood cholesterol and smoking.

Because your body is working more efficiently, you can lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. It is also important to mention that this should be done in conjunction with a healthy diet, to maximise the effects and the results.

As your heart will be more efficient, you will have a lower resting heart rate. This will mean that more blood will be pumped out with each beat of your heart.

When doing any form of cardiovascular exercise, you will lose weight, as long as your calorie intake is not greater than your cardiovascular output.  Basically, what you put into your body should be less than the amount of calories you use up. Balance input with output.

You will improve the way your lungs work (VO2max), the intake, uptake and utilisation of oxygen.  The body works as a whole, in unison. If you improve one part of the way the ‘machine’ – your body – is working, you improve others.

You can improve and increase your bone density. As you get older, bone density can decrease and lead to osteoporosis. If you regularly take part in weight bearing exercise, these effects can be diminished. For example, walking, jogging, swimming and working with light weights to increase your upper body bone density.

Reduce levels of glucose-stimulated insulin. This is because cardiovascular training can help to regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the amount of insulin needed.   You can reduce your stress levels and feel more relaxed.

Cardiovascular exercise has been seen to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you work-out regularly, you will increase the flow of blood around your body and help to eradicate toxins and make you feel better.

All of the above points will not only make you look and feel better, but help you to live longer. As always, you should consult your doctor before taking part in any form of exercise programme.

For more information please contact Carolyn on 931 106 716 or