Cardiovascular Endurance: What Is It and How to Improve It
If you have ever stopped and started workouts throughout the year, you are probably wondering why you lose endurance so quickly. Experts find that your VO2 max levels, one indicator of cardiovascular endurance, decrease within two to four weeks without activity.
But is your VO2 max and cardiovascular endurance a good indicator of health, or should you stick with the weight lifting? Both are excellent measures of health. Although, they target different systems and muscle fibers.
Luckily, we are here to talk more about how your cardiovascular system is essential to your overall health and simple ways you can start incorporating more cardio exercises safely into your workouts. Keep reading for more information!
What Is Cardiovascular Endurance?
Cardiovascular endurance, otherwise known as aerobic endurance, measures how well you can exercise for a prolonged period. Typically, health and fitness experts use cardiovascular endurance as a predictive measure for lung and heart health.
Another name you might hear it called is cardiorespiratory endurance since it involves your cardiac and respiratory systems. However, your muscular system shouldn’t be neglected.
Muscles have two types of fibers: slow and fast-twitch. You could also think of it as your power and endurance muscles. Typically, your muscles require two different training types for endurance sports (e.g., long-distance running) versus power sports (e.g., sprints, powerlifting).
Why Is Cardiovascular Endurance Important?
Cardiovascular endurance is important for several reasons, including:
- Improved cardiac health
- Improved respiratory health
- Reduced risk for certain chronic illnesses
- Improved body weight
One study examined cardiovascular fitness and quality of life measures in elderly adults. They found that lower cardiorespiratory fitness increased cardiovascular disease outcomes. It also increased all causes of mortality.
The study implemented a community-based exercise program for elderly adults. The program included patient participation two to three times per week, consisting of:
- Cardio exercises
- Circuit resistance training
After three months, the exercise group was compared to a sedentary group. The study showed significant improvements in the cardiorespiratory fitness group, including:
- Decreased systolic blood pressure
- Decreased triglycerides
- Physical functioning
- General health
You can improve your quality of life, physique, and fitness level by implementing cardio-based exercises into your exercise regime.
Does Cardiovascular Endurance Replace Strength Training?
Cardiovascular endurance is not a replacement for strength training. Rather, the two should be used together! Even marathon runners need strength training, which helps with:
- Injury prevention
- Building lean muscle
- Increasing oxygen consumption
- Reducing heart rate
- Regulating blood sugars
- Improving physique
There are a few different ways you can combine the two if you don’t have time for both. For example, HIIT exercises are ideal for targeting strength and endurance. Use a cardio machine and adjust the incline or resistance for more of a “muscle building” workout.
How To Improve Cardiovascular Endurance
Are you ready to get started with improving your cardiovascular endurance? Here are a few tips on cardio exercises:
- Start slow
- Monitor your heart rate
- Take breaks
- Use a schedule
- Hire a personal trainer
If you don’t have experience with a fitness test, it can be an excellent measure of your current fitness level. From there, you can determine where to start. A personal trainer can help you with a fitness test, but here are some of the more popular ones:
- VO2 max equipment
- One-mile run
Vo2 max tests are expensive, and you will need the expertise of a skilled professional. One of the most standard fitness tests for cardio health is a one-mile walk or run. Simply try and complete a mile in the fastest time possible and compare your score against national averages.
You could also take your measurements and use them as a benchmark for comparison down the road. It is important to remember that cardio fitness takes time to improve. Set a schedule, sign up for a class, or hire a personal trainer to keep you motivated through the process.
Target Heart Rate Zone
If you have ever been to a gym, you have seen the charts that show “target heart rate.” These are important, especially if you are just starting your fitness journey. Sometimes, exercise can push you into dangerous heart rate zones.
Occasional spikes with HIIT activities or other similar interventions are usually safe, but you do not want to stay in your upper zones for too long. Most experts recommend that your target heart rate zone for aerobic activities should remain between 50 and 85 percent. Here are some examples outlined by the American Heart Association for target heart rates:
- 30 years: 95 BPM to 162 BPM
- 40 years: 90 BPM to 153 BPM
- 50 years: 85 BPM to 145 BPM
- 60 years: 80 BPM to 136 BPM
Your maximum heart rate also declines with age. For example, at 20 years old, your max heart rate hovers around 200 BPM. By the time you reach 40, this number drops to 180 BPM.
Cardio Exercise Examples
Cardio exercises can be as simple as you want them to be, including treadmills, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, or walking outside. If you get bored easily, consider signing up for a dance or aerobic class.
How much time should you spend on cardio exercises? The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly.
Improve Your Cardio Fitness Levels Today
Are you ready to start improving your cardiovascular endurance? Targeting your heart and lungs during workouts helps prevent chronic illnesses and boosts your overall quality of life. Additionally, you will start burning calories and stubborn fat.
Cardio involves endurance activities that take time and patience. If you aren’t a natural runner, these activities may seem extremely challenging. At Fitness CF, we offer various classes, gym memberships, and personal trainers to help with your journey.
Contact us today for more information!