Cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise is any kind of exercise that keeps your heart rate up for a suspended period of time. Cardio exercise can unclog your arteries as well as provide other health benefits. Cardio includes circuit weight lifting, running, biking, hiking, dancing and team sports.
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease, is the blocking or size reduction of coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis causes coronary artery disease. It’s the plaque that forms from bad cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, protein and other toxins that have accumulated in the arteries. This plaque can harden your arteries and restrict blood flow to your heart. Clogged arteries cause angina, kidney failure, heart attack or stroke.
Exercise reduces your risk of obesity and diabetes; increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol; and lowers your levels of triglycerides, which are a type of fat in your blood. High levels of triglycerides can contribute to clogged arteries, as does smoking. Exercise can help you quit or reduce the amount you smoke.
The American Heart Association says exercise can prevent heart disease from developing, “Even moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most or all days.” If you’re an adult, the American Heart Association suggests exceeding this minimum to prevent gaining weight, improve bone density and reduce the risk of other diseases. Some exercise is better than nothing, and as little as 45 minutes of walking per week has been shown to decrease amounts of coronary heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardio exercise five days a week at 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate to improve your heart health. A formula, 220 minus your age, will give you your estimated maximum heart rate. Multiply your heart rate maximum by 50 percent and 85 percent. This is your intensity at which to exercise.
Resistance training slows bone loss caused by aging and lowers your risk for bone fractures. It increases bone formation, or osteogenesis, in young adults. Muscle gained from resistance training improves glucose metabolism. The American Heart Association suggests strength training twice a week. Exercise intensity should be high enough so your muscles tire after 8 to 12 repetitions.