4 Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Whether outdoors, in a gym, or at home, exercise can be performed almost anywhere. To be more specific, exercise can be broken down into two basic groups: cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise and strength (anaerobic) exercise. Today we are focusing on cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular means cardio (heart) and vascular (veins). It is your “heart vein” system, you could say. Cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio” for short, can be done through a variety of exercises like running, cycling, jump rope, etc. These exercises require consistent breathing; after all, aerobic does mean “with oxygen”. Let us look at a few of the benefits that can be acquired from cardio exercise.


Improved Heart & Lung Function

The lungs bring in oxygen and the oxygen is then transported into the bloodstream. The heart then pumps the oxygen filled blood to the rest of the body. Improving cardio exercise improves the function of both the heart and lungs. With improved heart function, your heart can work much more efficiently. This often leads to improvements in heart rate and blood pressure. With improving cardio exercise, the lungs can take in and deliver oxygen to the bloodstream, as well as remove carbon dioxide more efficiently. Simply, your heart and lungs can do the same work with less effort and strain.


Weight Loss/ Weight Maintenance

A greater amount or intensity of cardio exercise means more calories burned. The body first uses glucose from carbohydrates as its source of energy. After that source is used, the body begins to use fat stores as energy. This helps the body shed excess weight or maintain a healthy body weight. Burning fat stores usually comes with extended cardio exercise sessions (usually about 20 minutes in a session). Also, some individuals begin their day with cardio exercise before eating breakfast to begin burning fat more quickly into their session. However, you may feel less energetic performing cardio exercise on an empty stomach.


Improved Sleeping Habits

Abnormal quantity or quality of sleep can cause issues in personal and professional life. Cardio exercise puts physical stress on the body, and our bodies use sleep as a time to recharge. The amount of exertion through cardio exercise can help us reach a deeper level of sleep. For some, exercising in the evening can help them fall asleep (I fall into this category). For others, it may energize them and make it difficult to fall asleep. If you have a hard time sleeping after exercise, make sure to plan your cardio exercise for earlier in the day.


Reduced Risk of Injury

Cardio exercise has long been associated with building lean muscle. If you see a runner or cyclist, you may notice they usually are not bulky but do have defined muscles. Cardio exercise helps produce stronger and more flexible muscles that can hold up better without strains and tears. Cardio exercise can also lead to a stronger core (abdominal and back muscles). These muscles control and protect postural muscles. Strong core muscles make it easier to rotate the trunk of your body and avoid a hunched-over posture.



As you can see, there are a wide variety of benefits from cardio exercise. I forgot to mention that you also just might enjoy your cardio exercise as well. As mentioned before, there are a wide variety of exercises that are considered cardiovascular. Find which options you enjoy best and slowly work into it. I am sure you will see some of these benefits, if not more, once you build a steady cardiovascular exercise routine for yourself.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Improving Energy Levels

People often tell me they want to be more active, get more done, and feel better on an average day. However, many say they do not have the energy that they wish they did. If you feel that way, what can you do to boost your energy levels and feel better than you do right now? Let’s break it down.


Our bodies are mostly made of water, and many of the body’s functions require water. If you are not properly hydrated, then your body will not function properly and your energy levels will be low. Recommendations range from 64 ounces a day to half your body weight in ounces a day. Another important factor to consider is not just how much liquid you are drinking, but WHAT you are drinking. Certain liquids may not hydrate you as much as you may think. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means the body flushes out liquid by causing you to urinate more often. Coffee, soda, and tea can be poor choices for staying hydrated. When I was younger, I would drink three to four sodas a day. My energy levels were up and down throughout the day, and I often had trouble sleeping at night. Overall, my energy levels improved when I cut back on the soda (sugar and caffeine) and began to just drink water.

Eating Habits

What you eat can be just as important as the liquids you drink. Certain foods can lead to improved energy levels, while others decrease energy levels. Dark leafy greens offer many energy boosting vitamins and minerals, such as iron. Protein rich foods help keep muscles strong when combined with strength exercise. Certain foods like simple carbohydrates can leave you feeling bloated and tired throughout the day, especially when overeaten. Try focusing on fruits and vegetables early in your meals to fill up more on high-quality foods before your regular meal.


To improve your energy levels, you also need to take into consideration your exercise habits. Being physically active leads to having strong bones and muscles as well as an improved cardiovascular system. Resistance exercise makes your body physically stronger, allowing you to support weaker areas of the body (lower back, knees, and hips.) Cardiovascular exercise helps improve the efficiency of blood flow throughout the body. This means that blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen flow to muscles and organs will improve. The cardiovascular system can now function more efficiently and with less effort. Also, exercise early in the day has been shown for most people to improve energy levels throughout the day.


All of the improvements I have listed above may not matter much without the proper sleeping habits. Most people need the recommended seven to eight hours per night. Everyone is different (I knew a man that only needed four hours a night!), so pay attention to what makes you feel the most rested. Make sure your sleep is as consistent as possible; not only does your body expect the same amount of hours per night but also the same timeframe (Example: 11 pm to 7 am). Lack of proper sleep can lead to general fatigue, lack of energy to perform exercise, mental fogginess, and even increased hunger.


As you can see, there are several areas you can work on to improve your energy levels. I would suggest working on one area at a time. Also, work on the easiest area first. If it might be hard to work on the exercise and eating habits, then focus on the sleep and hydration first. Once you feel it has become a consistent habit, move on to the next area you want to work on. With some dedication you can be more energetic, more productive, and happier.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant