Cardiovascular exercise, also known as “cardio,” is aerobic activity or exercise that requires oxygen and can be performed for a sustained period of time (i.e. longer than five minutes). The word cardiovascular refers to two systems: the heart and the blood vessels. Any activity that causes the heart and lungs to work for a sustained period of time is considered cardio – this can be as simple as walking, as mundane as mopping a floor, or as entertaining as dancing.
Potential benefits include lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, healthier cholesterol, better sleep, less stress, reduced anxiety, reduced depression, weight loss, weight maintenance, more energy, better brain function, stronger immune system, increased blood flow, increased bone density, and improved lung capacity. If any of these sound like something you would like for yourself, add cardio to your daily “to do” list.
In addition to improving your overall quality of life, cardio can also help prevent, control, and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. The greatest benefit is of course heart health. If you have a family history of heart attacks or heart disease, you want to make sure that you are doing cardio daily.
Cardio can help manage symptoms, reduce or eliminate pain, and help you feel less fatigued. When done properly, it can act can be like a medicine with no adverse side effects.
For best results, perform cardio five to seven days a week for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that cardio can be effective and beneficial in increments as short as ten minutes at a time. For many people, doing ten minutes, a few times a day, is much more feasible than an hour at the gym. These cardio bouts can be performed at work during lunch and coffee breaks, first thing in the morning or in the evening.
Since this particular exercise can be done virtually anywhere, this means it should be easy to accomplish on a daily basis. All you need is ten minutes, a willing body and a positive attitude.