Remaining Active via Cardiovascular Training

In 2002 the WHO (World Health Organisation) named one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability as having a sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity is one of the main risk factors linked to the development of hypokinetic diseases (meaning low movement diseases). Examples of these diseases include:

– Coronary Heart Disease

– Stroke

– Osteoporosis

– Arthritis

– Type 2 Diabetes


Evidence overwhelmingly shows that remaining active via cardiovascular training reduces the risk of a multitude of diseases and can benefit your lifestyle in various other ways. The UK’s HDA (Health Development Agency) recommend for adults:

“At least 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days of the week. The physical activity should be at least a moderate intensity. Activity can be taken in bouts of 10-15 minutes, allowing for accumulation of activity throughout the day.”

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommend that individuals seeking to increase (specifically) their cardiovascular fitness should exercise 3-5 times per week at 60-90% of their maximum heart rate. The level of intensity will vary for you as the individual dependant on your current fitness levels, your goals and your health. It is important that if you have previously been leading a sedentary lifestyle, you seek professional guidance when beginning a dedicated training programme; which in many cases means seeking medical clearance.

The physiological implications of sustained cardiovascular training are amazing. Your lungs improve in a number of ways which link directly to lung function and efficiency (including lung capacity and respiratory function). Your heart and vascular system are similarly improved and you will notice a dramatic change in your muscle function including greater recruitment of type 1 muscle fibres (the ones that affect your endurance) and more tone/definition.


VO2 Max

An often used phrase in cardiovascular fitness and sports fitness in general is VO2 max. This term seemingly relates to a person fitness in some way but it is often left to you to figure out how. According to ( this is how:

“VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min)” This means that your VO2 max directly relates to your ability to convert and utilise the oxygen in your system for your own benefit.

Remaining active via cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis and at the correct levels of intensity is proven to improve your VO2 max resulting in increase performance, great overall health and those physiological changes mentioned above.


Variations of Cardiovascular Training:

– Continuous Training

– Interval Training

– Fartlek Training Continuous


Continuous Training can be described as steady, prolonged exercise at roughly 70% VO2 max or 74-88% max heart rate. You should always be able to comfortably talk when performing continuous training (LSD – Long Slow Distance). This style of training is perfect for people trying to develop good foundations of fitness before starting more rigorous exercise, and is also great for endurance athletes and a good starting point for those looking to lose weight.

Interval Training is a format of training comprising of measured distances or times for periods of work and recovery. Interval training allows you to accomplish a higher intensity of training whereby you couldn’t previously complete it. Interval sessions are best suited to those who have already developed a fair level of fitness and a good base level of conditioning.

Fartlek training is a style of training that uses varying speeds and distances to target overall cardiovascular performance in a far less scientific and strict style than intervals. Fartlek training is a really great way of adding variety to your training in order to move beyond training plateaus. The other great thing about Fartlek training is that in enables you to mimic situations that occur in your favourite sporting events or active hobbies meaning you can improve your sport specific fitness.

Activities that could be used for Cardiovascular Training:

– Power Walking

– Jogging

– Running

– Cycling

– Swimming

– Rowing

– Cardio Machines (Cross Trainer, Treadmill, Exercise Bike)

– Active Sports (Netball, Football, Squash, Badminton)


Remaining active via cardiovascular training is so essential for your long term health and well being. It is vital that your cardio-respiratory system, energy systems and muscular function are all performing at optimum potential relevant to your age, health and lifestyle. Being active can directly reduce your chances of suffering with various hypokinetic diseases, can improve your mobility and muscle function, can increase your longevity and can improve your general health and wellbeing.

Don’t ignore the cardio.


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