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What is Cardiovascular Endurance?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Cardiovascular endurance provides the ability to stay in constant motion for a long time without getting too winded. The efficiency and health of the heart muscle is the key component in this kind of fitness. Good cardiovascular endurance helps keep the blood oxygenated, so when someone reaches the limit of his cardiovascular endurance, he will instinctively try to compensate by gasping for air.

When people are trying to increase the level of their cardiovascular endurance, they will generally use exercises that work well over a long period of time at medium or low intensity. These exercises are especially good for cardiovascular endurance because they keep the heart perpetually busy without a lot of breaks. In most cases, performing these exercises will eventually cause the heart to work more efficiently, and people gradually find it easier to do the exercises for longer stretches.

Many health experts recommend working on cardiovascular endurance as a way to improve overall health and to lessen the risk of certain common illnesses. It is considered particularly useful in keeping a person’s heart healthy. As people age, doctors often recommend less aggressive workout regimens because there is also a danger of overdoing it.

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For many people, improving cardiovascular endurance may start with simply walking. This is often done on a daily basis for 30 minutes or more. As people become more capable of enduring the challenge, they will often gradually increase the time spent. If a person lives in the right kind of environment, she may walk in their neighborhood. Other people may use a walking trail or take advantage of treadmills inside their homes.

Other exercises commonly used to increase cardiovascular fitness include bicycling, swimming, or aerobic dancing. The one thing all these exercises have in common is that they don’t build a whole lot of muscle. Muscle-building exercises aren’t quite as good for cardiovascular fitness because they can’t be performed for very long stretches. Usually, they are designed to overload the body with short periods of intense work, and this helps a lot with gaining muscle, but it's not particularly useful for building endurance.

There are some exercise programs that are designed to build both strength and endurance. For example, some weight lifters will do circuit training. This means that they perform their whole routine in constant motion with very few breaks. This allows them to keep their heart rate up for the entire workout and build their muscles simultaneously. Sometimes these kinds of routines will also incorporate some cardio-based exercises mixed in with the strength-training maneuvers.

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