A Beginners Guide to Cardiovascular Training
File photo credit: SportSG
What is Cardiovascular Training?
Cardiovascular (or aerobic) training is any sustained physical activity at a relatively low intensity, for a medium to long period of time. It is the foundation for most sporting activities, and general examples include walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling. It is an essential part of your training program – and can help you lose or gain weight, as well as build fitness and stamina. It is also convenient and flexible be it training outdoors or indoors whilst watching sport or listening to music.
What are the Benefits of Cardiovascular Training?
There are many benefits to cardiovascular training in both physical and mental aspects. Frequent and sustained cardio training will help you achieve the following benefits over other types of exercises:
- Benefits your muscles and joints.
- Strengthens your respiratory system.
- Improves recovery time, as you will have more red blood cells transporting oxygen around your body, and more energy molecules.
- Raises your performance level.
- Enlarges your heart muscle and improves circulation,
- Reduces blood pressure, and lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
- Regular cardio exercise is also healthy for the mind, increasing blood flow to the brain, which improves our long term cognitive activity. It is also a great stress reducer. Feeling the strain after work? Try going for a jog, or stop off at the gym on the way home.
How Does Cardiovascular Training Complement Your Exercise Programme?
Most sporting activities, even if they themselves aren’t an aerobic activity, can benefit from a frequent cardio work out. Golf, tennis, volleyball, dancing, boxing, weight training – whatever your sport or activity, a cardio training programme will build your endurance and lower your fatigue.
Cardiovascular training is a good foundation for your training programme if you are looking to build lean muscle through strength training.
Precautions of Cardiovascular Training
The right amount of cardio exercise can help you live longer. However, there are a number of precautions to take.
1. Diet and Post-meal Exercise
A healthy and balanced diet complements a regular cardiovascular program. It is also wise to give your body enough time to digest food after eating, and the larger the meal, the longer you should wait. So for instance after dinner, leave a minimum of 60 minutes before heading out for your evening run.
2. Avoiding Injuries
If you are just starting out, don’t push yourself too hard to begin with. Build up your stamina and resistance to injury gradually, leaving enough time for your body to recover between training sessions. Try exercising with a partner, which will help you both regulate each other.
3. Weather Conditions
It is important to alter the intensity of your training depending on the weather conditions. In hot weather, take on plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. It is recommended you drink between 4-6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. Train in the evenings, so as to avoid the hottest part of the day and take regular breaks (15 minutes for every 60 minutes of training).
If you live in a big city where the air contains more pollution, try and avoid areas of high traffic, and stick to wide open spaces, such as parks. Sometimes, exercising indoors is more hazardous than outdoors. If you are training at home, make sure there is adequate ventilation, and consider investing in an air purifier. Low quality air has a damaging effect on your respiratory system, reducing the flow of oxygen around your body, and reducing the benefits of exercising.
5. Warm up Correctly
One of the highest causes of injuries is failing to warm up correctly, and not just stretching but doing a full, dynamic warm-up.