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My name is Stephanie, and I am a cardio junkie. Bike, run, swim, walk… I don’t care what it is, if it gets my heart pumping and my sweat glands working, I am IN!
Until now though, I had never really thought about what goes on INSIDE of my body when I’m working up a sweat.
Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise involving a repetitive motion using large muscle groups to increases your heart and breathing rate. Blood flow is directed away from muscles NOT doing work and toward the ones who are (like your legs).
Over time, consistent cardio causes your resting heart rate to decrease because your left ventricle adapts to the larger blood volume and it gets bigger. With a larger and stronger muscle, more blood is ejected per beat, even at rest, so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. This is what makes cardio exercise so good for your heart!
On the flip side though… too much of anything is rarely good.
Too much cardio and you can become overtrained. Overtraining may create more stress than your body can handle, leading to illness, injury, increased stress hormones and dreaded weight gain.
In essence, too much cardio probably does the exact opposite of what you are doing it for to begin with: to reduce stress, get fitter, faster and/or leaner! Endurance athletes have to pay close attention to their heart rate, sleep patterns and nutrition to make sure this does not happen.
Most Americans are not in danger of overtraining, however. According to the latest studies, only about 20% of us get enough exercise. The recommendation is for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. I think we can do better!
Remember, those 150 minutes can be broken down into ten-minute chunks of time, which makes it manageable for even the busiest people. And it’s so worth it! People who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Physical activity can also help with weight control, and may improve scholastic achievement as well.
What are you waiting for? Slip on those tennis shoes, grab a friend and go for a walk!
UP next: When I lift weights, my heart does WHAT?!
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