Thursday, March 18, 2010

Effects of Exercise on the Cardiovascular System

cardio - the heart, as in cardiac arrest & cardiologist

vascular - the blood vessels that transport blood around the body

The function of the cardiovascular system is to:
- transport oxygen to tissues and remove waste
- transport nutrients to tissues
- regulate body temperature

You may have read some articles lately that seem to suggest cardio exercise, the kind where you get all huffy-puffy, unable to carry on a regular conversation, is of little or no benefit.
I'm not sure what scientific research "studies" journalists are Google-ing because they certainly aren't reading them properly.

It is true that cardio exercise burns calories while you are doing it, versus weigh-training which increases your metabolic rate (the amount of energy your body uses at rest) well after the weight session ends, however cardio has it's place in a fat-loss program and myriad other benefits to your health & well-being.


Blood performs incredibly important functions in our bodies, it carries nutrients, oxygen & hormones to the cells, it carries metabolic waste to the kidneys and lungs to be excreted and it transports specialised cells that defend peripheral tissues from infection & disease.

- Red blood cells contain not only vital oxygen, but also iron

- Plasma contains nutrients, electrolytes, organic waste, proteins and hormones

- White blood cells are the mobile units of the body's defence system and function primarily outside the blood, in the organs and tissues.

- Platelets work together with plasma to stop bleeding and assist in tissue repair.

The Heart

Your heart improves in strength and efficiency with cardio exercise.

It's a muscle you know, and like any muscle if you don't use it, challenge it and build it, your heart will not be in great shape; unlike other muscles, if this one is weak or not functioning well, your overall health is affected.

Well all know our body requires oxygen to survive, and adaptation to exercise, allows your body to use oxygen more efficiently.

More blood, and by definition, all the goodness contained in it, is able to be pumped out from your heart per beat.

This is why your resting heart rate decreases with improved fitness.

Blood Pressure

The amount of blood pumped, the force at which it is pumped and the diameter of the blood vessels all affect blood pressure.

The numbers that the doctor gives you are (usually) higher number over lower number.

The first number is your systolic pressure, the pressure generated during a contraction (when your heart is squeezed to pump the blood).

The second number is your diastolic pressure, the pressure of the heart during relaxation.

So your blood pressure tells you how hard your heart is working on contraction and at relaxation and in general, the healthier the heart and associated vessels, the lower a person's blood pressure will be.

Doctors generally agree that 120 - 140 over 70 - 90 are normal.

If you don't know your blood pressure or are unsure, talk to me next time you train and I can give you this valuable information.

So improving the functioning of your cardiovascular system, increasing the efficiency of your heart pumping blood around your body, carrying more oxygen & nutrients to your tissues, including your bones, lowering your blood pressure and reducing your body temperature, all of these benefits are already occurring for you.

Oh, and if you're wondering why it seems like the lungs somehow make up the cardiovascular system, they provide the oxygen that keeps our entire being alive.
Huffy-puffing does a body good!

Keep your heart healthy and it will serve you well.
Happy training!

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