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Home > Health > Home Fitness Guide > Cardiovascular Exercise

What is cardiovascular exercise?

Some people refer to Cardiovascular exercise as aerobic exercise, some people even call it 'cardio' for short. All it amounts to is exercises that involve the large muscles like legs and help make your heart and lungs stronger. Cardiovascular exercise has lots of health benefits like lowering your blood pressure, and also it can burn lots of calories - for those of you who want to lose weight.

Cardiovascular exercise is activity involving the large muscles, such as your legs. The word 'aerobic' refers to something that needs oxygen. During cardiovascular or aerobic exercise oxygen gets continuously delivered to your muscles. Outside of exercise, terms like 'aerobic bacteria' refer to bacteria that need oxygen to survive, and 'anaerobic bacteria' are ones that do not need oxygen to stay alive.

To give your heart a proper workout you need to make sure that you do your cardiovacular exercise with a certain amount of intensity, but you don't want to overdo it. One way measure the amount of exertion while exercising is by monitoring your heart rate.

You can measure your heart rate manually or with a heart rate monitor. I prefer using a heart rate monitor, but more about that later. Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Everyone has a resting heart rate, which is just what it sounds like - the rate your heart beats per minute while you are resting. Everyone also has a maximum heart rate, which the maximum amount of times your heart can beat in a minute. Your 'target heart rate zone' is a range of heart rate that is considered to be the best rate to be in to give your heart a good workout. This range is between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate.

Your maximum heart rate can be determined by a doctor, or you can use a formula to calculate a rough estimate. The most common way to calculate it is the following:

For women:
226 - (your age) = your maximum heart rate

For men:
220 - (your age) = your maximum heart rate

For example, if you are a 32 year old woman: substract 32 from 226

226 - 32 = 194

Then take that number and multiply it by .5, to get your lower end of your target zone. And then multiply that same number by .85 to get the upper end of your zone. For example:

194 x .5 = 97


194 x .85 = 164.9

So, for a 32 year old woman an estimate of her maximum heart rate is 194. And her 'target heart rate zone' is between 97 and 164.9 heart beats per minute.

Other methods exist for calculating your maximum and target zone heart rate, including using a heart rate monitor and the Karvonen method.

Some related articles about cardiovascular exercise are:

Cardiovascular Exercise Programs

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Types of Cardiovascular Exercise

Easy Cardiovascular Exercises

Cardiovascular Exercises without Equipment

Pregnancy and Exercise DVD's

Jane Fonda Exercise DVD's

Water Aerobic Exercise Videos and DVD's

Cardiovascular Exercises for Children

Legal stuff: The above article is for general information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.

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