Cardiovascular exercise, commonly known as cardio, is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it help to improve overall fitness, but it also plays a crucial role in maintaining a happy, healthy heart.
But what makes cardio so important for the heart? Let’s dive into the science behind it.
Firstly, cardio helps to strengthen the heart muscle. When we engage in cardio exercise, such as running or cycling, our heart rate increases, and our heart has to work harder to pump blood to our muscles. Over time, this increased workload strengthens the heart, making it more efficient and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Secondly, cardio helps to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, and regular cardio exercise has been shown to help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. This is because cardio helps to improve the elasticity of blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow through them.
Thirdly, cardio can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of heart disease. Regular cardio exercise has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body, which can lower the risk of heart disease.
Lastly, cardio can help to improve cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) can increase the risk of heart disease, while high levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) can help to protect the heart. Regular cardio exercise has been shown to help increase HDL cholesterol levels and decrease LDL cholesterol levels, leading to a healthier heart.
So, how much cardio should you be doing? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week. This can include activities such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
In conclusion, cardio exercise is the secret to a happy, healthy heart. By strengthening the heart muscle, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving cholesterol levels, cardio can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall health. So, put on those running shoes and start moving for a healthier heart!