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What is the Definition of Cardiovascular Fitness and Why Should You Care?

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 7/31/2009

Anyone who has attempted to get into shape has certainly heard the phrase “cardiovascular fitness,” but many don’t actually know what that means. Here, learn the definition of cardiovascular fitness, also called cardio-respiratory endurance, and find out why it matters to your health.

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    The Definition

    Cardiovascular fitness is a specific type of muscular endurance. Basically, the term indicates the measure of competence of the heart, lungs and vascular system. Each organ or system works together to provide oxygen to your active muscles, allowing the muscles to work harder and helping to develop your personal fitness.

    So, if your body is proficiently circulating blood and delivering oxygen and hormones to your muscles and organs, your cardiovascular fitness is on track.

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    The Benefits

    Those who are in top cardiovascular shape are likely to have higher metabolisms, lower rate of stroke and heart disease, less pain during and after exercise and be generally more healthy overall. Your heart is a muscle, so it makes sense that it should be worked like one.

    And, as you get fitter, you will notice that your body develops a tolerance for exercise and uses less energy, making it less difficult for you to complete the exercises. You’ll find that you need to increase the intensity of your workout to fit your endurance, and that you have an easier time breathing and functioning as you do so.

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    Tips to Improve Cardiovascular Health

    Regular aerobic exercise and strength training are perhaps the most important ways to improve your cardiovascular health. In general, if you exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week, you’ll be on target. Choose a type of exercise that you like, or at least one you don’t hate. This way, you’re more likely to stick to it.

    Diet comes next. While it’s not a great idea to be on a consistently restrictive diet, try to include primarily lean meat, veggies, whole grains and fresh fruits. Cut out as much processed food as possible. Remember that the longer you eat healthfully, the better it will taste to you—and the better you’ll feel.

    If you smoke, quit. Smoking has well-known effects on the lungs, heart and circulatory system.

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    Friendly Reminder

    Always check with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program.