Surprising Benefits of Cardio Exercises for Heart Health



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Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio exercises, are essential for improving cardiovascular conditioning. According to the American Heart Association, adults should perform at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 to 7 days weekly to keep their hearts healthy. Including warm-up, cool-down, and stretching exercises in your aerobic workout routine is crucial.

Aerobic exercise is also called "with oxygen" workouts because it uses oxygen to produce energy. When you breathe, the oxygen you inhale travels to the muscles, allowing them to burn fuel and move. Aerobic exercise improves your heart health, burns calories, and strengthens your muscles.

What is Aerobic Exercise and its Benefits?

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is any physical activity that increases the heart rate and oxygen intake for an extended period. It is a crucial component of maintaining good cardiovascular health. When you do aerobic exercise, your breathing rate and heart rate increase, allowing more oxygen to reach your muscles, which helps them to burn fuel and move efficiently. Aerobic exercise has many benefits, including:

Exercise Safety and Precautions

It's always essential to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you have underlying health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disorders, arthritis, or other medical conditions. You should also ask your doctor about any limitations and seek additional safety guidance for aerobic exercise.

If you experience any unusual symptoms during exercise, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, or joint pain, stop exercising immediately and consult your physician.

Some Examples of Aerobic Exercise - Lower-Impact Workouts

If you're looking for lower-impact aerobic exercises that are gentle on your joints, consider the following:

  • Walking: Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your joints.
  • Cycling: Cycling is another low-impact exercise that's easy on your joints and can be done outdoors or indoors on a stationary bike.
  • Swimming: Swimming is a fantastic whole-body workout that's gentle on your joints.
  • Rowing: Rowing machines provide an excellent low-impact cardio workout that engages your entire body.
  • Using an elliptical trainer: An elliptical trainer provides a low-impact workout that is gentle on your joints and helps strengthen your legs and glutes.
  • Upper body ergometer: A single piece of equipment that only gives a cardiovascular workout that targets the upper body.

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High-Impact Aerobic Exercise

Higher-impact aerobic exercises, such as running, jumping rope, high-impact routines, and step aerobics, offer a more intense workout that may help improve cardiovascular fitness. The Step, a high-density polyethylene platform with adjustable heights, is an excellent example of a higher-impact aerobic exercise. It allows for low-impact, high-intensity workouts, making it an ideal exercise suggested by physical therapists and fitness professionals.

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 The Step - Black/Gray


The Step is a low-impact aerobic exercise equipment that has gained popularity among physical therapists and fitness professionals. It is designed to provide a high-intensity, low-impact workout that accommodates both beginner and advanced exercisers. With adjustable heights, users can customize the height of the platform by stacking risers to 4", 6", or 8" high to suit their fitness level.

Features a slip-proof, sturdy mat on top and non-marking rubber floor pads on the bottom of the platform and blocks. It has an extra-large stepping surface that measures 40"L x 14"W, providing ample space for users to step and move around during their workout.

Frequency and Duration of Aerobic Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends that adults perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days a week. This can be divided into ten-minute periods throughout the day. For example, taking three ten-minute walks can help you reach the minimum recommended guidelines for reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

It's advisable to perform aerobic exercise every day. Still, you don't need to rest between sessions unless you're at an extreme level of exercise, such as training for a marathon or experiencing recurring joint pain. If joint pain limits you, it's best to switch to less painful movements or terminate painful activities altogether.

Description of intensity

The intensity of your workout determines how hard you're exercising and depends on your fitness level, goals, and limitations. Higher-intensity exercises burn more calories and provide a more significant cardiovascular challenge. However, monitoring your intensity is essential to avoid injury and ensure safety.

Heart Rate and Exercise

Your heart rate increases as you exercise, and the intensity of the exercise determines how much your heart rate increases. Heart rate levels vary significantly from person to person, depending on their fitness level, genes, environment, and exercise tolerance. It's essential to consult your healthcare provider to specify the appropriate heart rate range if you wish to train based on heart rate. Some medications, primarily blood pressure drugs, control heart rate, making it impossible to determine exercise level or intensity. Consult your doctor to decide whether or not you're on any of these drugs.

Monitor the intensity in other ways.

An RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) chart may help determine the appropriate intensity with a scale of 1 to 10. One represents light activity, such as walking to the refrigerator to grab a snack. In contrast, 10 represents maximal exercise, indicating you cannot take one more step without fear of collapsing. It's not advisable to work at level ten without strict supervision by a medical provider. Moderate intensity, which is most highly recommended, falls between a 3 and a 5 rating.

Using a Heart Rate Monitor

Heart rate monitors are helpful tools that gauge your heart rate while exercising, helping you reach your target rate safely and effectively without going beyond your maximum heart rate. You can also use heart rate data to change your intensity, maintain a good pace, and increase your cardiorespiratory endurance. As you progress, you can sustain higher intensities for longer durations with a lower heart rate. Some heart rate monitors only track your heart rate, while others provide additional workout metrics such as speed, distance, and breathing rate.

Warming up and Cooling Down

Each session of aerobic exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up period should not have static stretching. Still, it should instead be a gradual increase in pace and intensity of the activity, allowing the body to increase the blood flow to muscles and decreasing the probability of a muscle or joint injury. A warm-up must last between 5 and 10 minutes. The cool-down session must last a comparable amount of time as the warm-up, with the rate gradually decreasing. Stretches exercise would be suitable after every aerobic exercise.

Advancement of Aerobic Exercise

To challenge your aerobic fitness, you can gradually increase your exercise routine's speed, resistance, or duration. However, you should gradually increase the intensity, challenging yourself for only a few minutes. Progressing at your own pace is essential, based on your exercise tolerance.

In conclusion, aerobic exercise is essential for maintaining heart health and overall physical fitness. By performing aerobic exercises regularly, you can improve your cardiovascular conditioning, reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, manage your weight, and increase your HDL cholesterol levels. It's vital to consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program and monitor your intensity to avoid injury and ensure safety.

Jairo Hernandez

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