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What is cardio fitness and how can you improve it?

by Freya 3 minutes read

Last updated: 20 Jun, 2022

Cardiovascular fitness/endurance is the ability of the heart, lungs, and vascular system to deliver oxygen-rich blood to our working muscles during physical activity, it is also known as cardiorespiratory fitness.

If you have high cardio fitness, then you can do high intensity activities for a long amount of time without getting tired. You would measure your cardio fitness by examining how well your body can take in and utilise oxygen.

Having high cardio fitness can have lots of benefits, including:

  • You are less likely to have high blood pressure

  • Increased multitask performance

  • Decrease the risk of heart disease

  • You can workout for longer without feeling tired

When you inhale, air and oxygen enter your lungs and pass into your bloodstream. This oxygen-rich blood then travels to your heart, which circulates it around your body to the tissues and organs that need it.

Our muscles require a sufficient amount of oxygen and other nutrients to work properly during high-intensity exercise, if they do not get enough of each, waste products begin to accumulate and will eventually cause fatigue.

Tired after running

How do we measure Cardiovascular endurance?

Maximum oxygen uptake:

Usually tested by running on a treadmill or pedalling on a stationary bike, the Maximum oxygen uptake test (VO2 Max) determines the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during high-intensity activity.

During the test, you would wear something that records your heart rate and a face mask that will measure your oxygen intake.

Although not always accurate, apple watches have setting that allows you to measure your VO2 values, which can be helpful if you are trying to improve your cardio fitness.

Metabolic equivalents:

Metabolic equivalents (METs) is the ratio between the energy disbursed during exercise during physical activity and the energy disbursed while resting. To find your MET, you would need to measure how much oxygen is used while at rest.

Gym bike

How to improve cardio fitness

You are able to improve your cardio fitness by exercising regularly.

A study showed that resistance training, endurance training and high-intensity training can all improve cardiovascular endurance for those aged 40-65 years old and not previously active.

If this is the case for 40-65 year olds, then it can be the case for anyone!

There are a range of exercises that you can do to improve endurance, including running and strength training.

If you are not a fan of running then check out this article for effective alternatives.

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