Cardiovascular Exercise to Improve Your Heart Health

For maximum effectiveness and safety, a cardiovascular exercise program should include specific instructions on frequency, duration, and intensity. These are the three important components of cardiovascular exercise that you really need to understand and when our experts design your program each one will be implemented. In addition to certain techniques your cardiovascular program will include a warm-up, a cool-down, and proper stretching of the primary muscles used in each of the exercises outlined in your program.

Warming Up and Stretching

One common mistake people make is stretching before their muscles are actually warmed-up. It is important to stretch after your muscles are warm (after blood has circulated through them). Never stretch a cold muscle. First warm up. A warm-up should be done for at least 5-10 minutes at a low intensity. Usually, the warm-up is done by doing the same activity as the cardiovascular or aerobic workout but at an intensity of 50-60% of your actual workout pace. After you've warmed-up for 5-10 minutes at a relatively low intensity, your muscles should be warm. To prevent injury and to improve your performance, you should stretch the primary muscles used in the warm up before proceeding with your workout.

Cooling Down

The cool down is similar to the warm-up in that it should last 5-10 minutes and be done at a low intensity as with your warm-up. After you have completed your cardiovascular exercise and cooled-down properly, it is now important that you stretch the primary muscles being used. Warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down are very important to every exercise session. They not only help your performance levels and produce better results, they also drastically decrease your risk of injury.

Frequency of Exercise

The first component of cardiovascular exercise is frequency of the exercise, which refers to the number of exercise sessions per week. To improve both cardiovascular fitness and to decrease body fat or maintain body fat at optimum levels, you should exercise (aerobically or anaerobically) at least three days a week. Those of you who are very out of shape and/or who are overweight and doing weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise such as an aerobics class or jogging, might want to have at least 36 to 48 hours of rest between workouts to prevent an injury and to promote adequate bone and joint stress recovery.

Remember, the information contained on this page are basic guidelines and if you are looking to achieve optimal results in weight loss, fitness, and/or overall cardiovascular health our experts will personally design a program that is specifically tailored to match your body-type, physical condition, and so on.

Duration of Exercise 

The second component of cardiovascular exercise is the duration, which refers to the time you've spent exercising. The cardiovascular session, not including the warm-up and cool-down, should vary from 20-60 minutes to gain significant cardio-respiratory and fat burning-benefits. Each time you do your cardiovascular exercise, try to do at least 20 minutes or more. Of course, the longer you go, the more calories and fat you'll "burn" and the better you'll condition your cardiovascular system. All beginners, especially those who are out of shape, should take a very conservative approach and train at relatively low intensities for 10-25 minutes. As you get in better shape, you can gradually increase the duration of time you exercise.