Cardiorespiratory fitness or cardiovascular fitness refers to the health of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems. These levels of fitness are gauged in the context of oxygen that can be supplied to various skeletal muscles, during periods of sustained physical activity. Cardiorespiratory exercises
and workouts are not just important for weight loss, but they help improve the functioning of the heart and lungs.
Regular cardio exercises and physical activity can help improve the efficiency of the heart
and circulatory system as it results in enlarging of the heart muscle. This not only allows more blood to be pumped with each contraction, but it also increases muscle function, endurance and stamina, as there is a corresponding increase in the number of small arteries within the muscles that are targeted in the fitness regime.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is of utmost importance today, as lifestyle diseases like cardiac disease are becoming increasingly widespread as a result of inactive/sedentary lifestyles. Respiratory function is enhanced with exercise as more oxygen is inhaled and circulated through the body. When the heart and lungs function more efficiently, human body can withstand higher levels of stress, significantly reducing the risk of several chronic illnesses. Regular physical activity, which is essential for cardiorespiratory fitness also helps prevent and lower the risk of several conditions like obesity
, hypertension, and high cholesterol
, which would otherwise elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Controlling body fat and keeping a check on obesity, also help reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes
Cardiovascular fitness doesn’t necessarily imply daily visits to the gym and running on a treadmill. There are several ways in which one can incorporate cardio exercises into everyday routine:
Swimming and BicyclingSwimming and bicycling are great activities to include as part of the regular fitness routine. While swimming and cycling will help burn calories, they also help build muscle and promote circulation. As with walking and running, one should gradually increase the duration and intensity of the activity. Cycling is especially great for developing the leg muscles, but to increase the intensity of the workout, try to cycle up an incline. Swimming with alternating strokes is a complete body workout and will significantly boost endurance levels and stamina.
Remember that physical activity should also follow a heart healthy diet to reap all of the benefits of the exercise routine.
Walking or JoggingWalking, and running are fitness activities that constitute cardiorespiratory exercise, but they need to be regularly performed for stable durations to boost cardiovascular endurance. To get started, one should begin by walking at a moderate pace for ten to fifteen minutes each day. As the body adjusts to the activity, start to increase the duration and intensity of walk gradually. Add five minutes to the exercise time each week and slowly pick up the pace as well. Keep doing this until each session spans, at least half an hour to 45 minutes.
Aerobics ClassesAerobics classes can be great fun with their blend of exercises and dance, helping to build cardiorespiratory endurance, while having a great time. Aerobic classes with step and dance activities can be quite an intense workout, but as usual, the person needs to progress gradually. Always make sure to only train with a certified fitness instructor. Such classes usually last for around an hour. Arm movements and choreographed movements that form part of the routine will also help tone the upper body muscles.
Dance SessionsIf you hate walking, jogging, or cycling down city streets, but love dancing, you should consider signing up for dance classes with styles like salsa and rumba. Some dance instructors, in fact, specialize in aerobic group exercise classes and every session will be a grueling workout. As with other aerobic activities, like walking or swimming, one need to increase the duration and intensity of workouts over time for continued cardiorespiratory benefits.
Martial Arts or KickboxingKickboxing and certain martial arts workouts with styles like Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo will test one’s endurance and give an intense cardio workout. Just three hours of time spent kickboxing each week will burn roughly 2,100 calories! Almost all types of martial arts will work on the muscular strength of the entire body, not just the upper or lower body muscles. In addition to improving the cardiovascular fitness levels, the individual will also gain a whole new set of self-defense skills.
All of these activities can be described as aerobic, and for them to be effective, one should be able to experience an increase in heart rate and deep breathing. At the same time, it should not be too strenuous that you lose breath and cannot have a conversation with an exercise companion. In case, one has a high fitness level, they need to push a bit more far to improve cardio-respiratory function, indulging in high-intensity activities that are classified as anaerobic exercise as well. Unlike aerobic activities that rely on oxygen supply from respiration, anaerobic activities utilize energy stores in the muscles.