When I Do Cardiovascular Exercise, My Heart Does WHAT??

My name is Stephanie, and I am a cardio junkie. Run, walk, elliptical, bike… I don’t care what it is, I love the feeling of getting my heart pumping! But honestly, until now, 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 repetitive motion involving large muscles that increases your heart and breathing rate. Blood flow is directed toward the muscles doing the work, like your legs, and away from the ones not doing work, like your arms or the little muscles inside your digestive tract.

Over time, consistent cardio causes your resting heart rate to drop 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.

If you do too much cardio, you can become overtrained. Overtraining may create more stress than your body can handle, leading to sickness, injury, increased stress hormones and weight gain. In essence, too much cardio does the opposite of what you are probably doing it for to begin with: to get fitter, reduce stress and lose weight!

Most Americans are not in danger of that, though. According to the latest studies, only about 20% of us get the recommended amount of exercise per week, which is only 150 minutes! We can do better!

Remember, that 150 minutes can be broken down into ten minute chunks of time which makes it manageable for even the busiest people. 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 academic achievement in students.

So what are you waiting for? Lace up those sneakers and go for a walk!

UP next: When I perform strength training, my heart does WHAT?!

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