By Nolan Kowal, Sport Performance Specialist
Why is cardiovascular health important?
Having good cardiovascular health helps our bodies function properly and allows the heart to be strong enough to pump blood throughout the body.
It can also help prevent many major health concerns that affect older Canadians such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests that adults, aged 18-64, get 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week.
The way you break down the 150 minutes is completely dependent on you and your lifestyle. It could be 25 minutes 5 days a week, 45-60 minutes 3 times a week, or however else you can fit it into your schedule.
Why not just run?
Running isn’t for everyone. Some people experience joint pain or have other physical limitations that makes running difficult or impossible. By using a variety of different cardio techniques, you are reducing stress on certain parts of your body.
Combining running with other types of cardio allows you to cross-train, work different muscle groups, and benefit your overall health.
What are my other options?
Yes, you can increase your cardiovascular health while sitting down. Rowing may look like a more sedentary activity but is a full-body workout that is good for your heart and muscle development.
It’s important to learn how to use a rowing machine properly before beginning as there is a certain order to it: legs, core, and arms. Ask our fitness centre staff for help before starting.
Swimming has been considered one of the best forms of cardiovascular training. One study showed that runners and swimmers boasted similarly low blood pressure and cholesterol levels when compared to walkers and non-exercisers.
It’s the lowest-impact cardio activity you can do which makes it perfect for people who experience joint pain or arthritis. Swimming works out your heart and your lungs, which allows you to expand your lung capacity and get more oxygen into your body.
You get to choose how you want to cycle. If you are looking for a lower intensity workout, you can go for a longer ride that may have some mixed terrain. If you prefer a more explosive cardio workout, consider taking a spin class where you are on a stationary bike, but cycle hard to some great music.
Cycling is great for your heart health and helps build and tone muscle. Even half an hour of cycling a week can lead to a decreased risk of developing heart disease.
Hands-only biking machines are also available which allows you to get the same benefit, without needing to use your legs.
4. Battle Ropes
Battle ropes are often misused but can be great for muscular conditioning and for cardio. The interval training you do with the ropes increases your heart rate and works out your upper body, lower body, and core. It is important to practice proper form when using the battle ropes. “Bad form is what cause injuries, not the movements themselves.”
5. Brisk walking, incline walking, hiking
Walking is an underrated form of cardio that can be effective when done right. Walking will take longer than other forms of cardio but can still provide the same results as long as you keep your heart rate elevated.
It is lower impact on your joints compared to running. Doing a brisk walk is better than doing no cardio at all and is a great place to start if you are new to cardio.
Start slow, stay consistent, and stretch.
If you are ever unsure how to use the equipment or just don’t know where to start, ask our Fitness Centre staff for help or book a consultation with us.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. How much physical activity do you need? Retrieved at https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active/how-much-physical-activity-do-you-need
CNN. Row your way to better health. Retrieved at https://www.cnn.com/2012/09/28/health/shockwave-rowing-workout-time/index.html
Harvard Health Publishing. Pedal your way to better heart health. Retrieved at https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/pedal-your-way-to-better-heart-health
Vice News. Most People in the Gym Don’t Know How to Use Battle Ropes. Retrieved at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjyvx4/most-people-in-the-gym-dont-know-how-to-use-battle-ropes