The power of exercise: Cardiovascular exercise

What is cardiovascular exercise and are you doing enough? Any movement or exercise that increases your heart rate for a short or prolonged period of time helps to strengthen your heart and lungs (the cardiovascular system). The recommendations are 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise such as a brisk walk or 75 minutes vigorous exercise a week such as running, cycling or gym classes. This helps maintain a healthy weight, waist size, blood pressure, cholesterol level and lower the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

For most of us who are time deprived and may have health conditions that mean we can’t participate in vigorous exercise moderate exercise is where we should aim for. 150 minutes may sound a lot. Studies suggest this needs to be for at least 10 minutes in duration when performing a brisk walk. Aiming to take a longer route to work or the shops all adds additional few minutes that can easily build up to your weekly total.

To have a cardiovascular affect you need to feel you are breathing harder and could just about hold a conversation. If you have a watch that picks up your heart rate you should be aiming to see it rise to around 65-75% maximum heart rate (calculated at 220-your age x 65%).

Being mindful when you move such as walking, cycling, swimming or playing sport means that you are fully present when you exercise. Your mind is noticing how your body feels when you exercise. You may be more consciously aware of what you see and hear around you. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps release feel good endorphins serotonin and dopamine that make us feel happy and rewarded. As we exercise mindfully we may feel a sense of peace in our minds helping improve physical and mental wellbeing long term.

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