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True Personal Training: Which Cardiovascular Exercise is Best for You?

Cardiovascular System

The body's cardiovascular, or circulatory system, is made of the heart, blood, and blood vessels (arteries and veins).The heart's main job is to pump oxygen-rich blood to the body after it pumps oxygen-poor blood to the lungs. It normally does this 60 to 100 times a minute, 24 hours a day.

Client using treadmill in Randwick gym studio for cardio exercise

What kind of exercise will most improve my cardiovascular fitness?

Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that:

  • involves the large muscles of the body

  • Is rhythmic and continuous in nature

  • challenges your heart and lungs to work harder.

Activities like walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, rowing, stair climbing, hiking, cross country skiing and many types of dancing are “pure” aerobic activities. Sports such as soccer, basketball, squash and tennis may also improve your cardiovascular fitness.

What’s the best type of cardiovascular exercise?

The best type is any exercise you enjoy and will continue to do! Select an activity that matches your personal preferences and health and fitness status. Consider previous injuries. Mix high-impact activities like jogging or step aerobics with weight-supported activities like rowing and cycling. The more muscles involved in the activity, the greater your aerobic challenge.

High-Intensity Interval Training or Steady-State Cardio

For many, going out for a morning jog, a run with friends on the weekend, or hitting the treadmill at the gym, might be a fitness regimen staple. But in the last 10 to 15 years, HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training) have gained a lot of momentum, opening up a debate about which regimen actually provides a better workout or more health benefits.

HIIT workouts typically include an intense work phase that can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and are performed at a relatively high level, usually 80 to 95 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate. This is followed by a recovery phase that can last as long as the work phase but is performed at a lower intensity, usually around 50 percent of max heart rate. The work/recovery phases continue to alternate anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, based on the program.

Major health benefits of high intensity interval training

  • Lose weight:

During a HIIT workout, you not only burn more calories than steady-state cardio, but the impact of all that concentrated effort kicks your body's repair cycle into hyperdrive. Meaning you burn more fat and calories within the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after a steady-pace run.

  • Build endurance:

V02 max is known as a measure of aerobic fitness related to an individual's capacity to perform long periods of moderate to vigorous exercise. Studies have shown that in a shorter period, HIIT leads to significant improvement in v02 max compared to other types of exercise.

  • Save time:

HIIT is an efficient way to exercise and can be an excellent option for time-poor people. A 2014 study found that just 30 minutes of HIIT three times a week can be very beneficial in improved blood pressure, cholesterol, lung, and heart health, not to mention weight loss and general well-being!

  • Live longer:

A study by Mayo Clinic has suggested that HIIT may reverse signs of cellular aging. It does this by boosting the production of proteins in cells that are important for normal body function; a process that normally declines during aging. So you’ll not only feel younger and more energetic, you’ll look it!

  • Improve mental health:

HIIT does not only benefit your body. It can also be great for your headspace. Research has shown that performing a HIIT workout twice per week improves cognitive function and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

Major health benefits of steady-state cardio

  • Improve recovery:

If you've allotted yourself an hour of daily gym time and consistently train hard, you might be forgetting one essential part of the equation: recovery. The effects of a workout don't stop once you leave the gym, and that feeling of fatigue might not either. Try low- to moderate-intensity workouts to help increase blood flow to damaged muscle tissues and boost your recovery.

  • Easier way to burn calories:

If you're someone who leads a relatively sedentary lifestyle and typically goes from sitting at a desk to sitting on your couch, adding in some form of daily cardio is a wise move. But you might not be ready for HIIT. It's OK to scale things down. While you won't get the same post-workout calorie burn from moderate intensity, steady-state cardio as you would a good interval sprint session, you'll still burn a decent number of calories and they do add up.

  • Easier to stick to:

Sometimes a fitness plan comes down to one simple question: Are you going to stick with it? While interval training might be the superior cardio modality for fat loss, if you absolutely hate sprint training, what good does it do you? Are you honestly going to keep up with your workouts if you dread doing them? First and foremost, remember the key role of enjoyment in exercise. The less you fear or better yet, look forward to your daily sweat session, the more likely you are to make it routine. This isn't to say you should never do an exercise that doesn't top of your list of favourites, but if you despise every second of a training session and there are alternative options, consider switching things up.

Want to find out more and how True PT's expert trainers can help improve your cardiovascular system and health. Enquire at use the promo code blog to receive 2 complimentary training sessions.

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