Unless you have an interest in anatomy or work in healthcare with patients, you may not spend much time thinking about what’s happening inside your body throughout the day — or how your body changes with regular exercise. There are a number of reasons to maintain a fitness routine: to improve your mental health, for the endorphins, to build strength and endurance, and to support your physical health. One important benefit of regular moderate exercise is improved cardiovascular health. 

While regular exercise has a number of positive effects on your body and mind, cardio can be a strenuous activity that can aggravate some health conditions. Check with your doctor before beginning a cardio routine to determine what forms of cardio are best suited to your body’s abilities and limitations. While you may dream of running a marathon, if your knees bother you, you may need to consider cardio options better suited to your body. Cardio comes in many different forms and intensities. While one way of strengthening your heart and body might not work for you, another might become your new favorite way to workout. 

What is the Cardiovascular System? 

Your cardiovascular system is comprised of your heart, blood, and blood vessels. It covers your whole body, carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout your arteries and veins. Your heart is at the center of this system, and pumps blood to all the other systems, organs, and tissues in your body. 

There are a number of health problems that can affect the heart, including heart disease. Heart problems occur when the blood vessels have a hard time getting blood to and from the heart or the heart struggles to pump normally. There are many things that contribute to your heart health, some of which are in your control and others (like genetics) that aren’t. Taking care of your heart health can help you live a long life, and cardio is an excellent way to help build up your heart strength.

How Cardio Can Improve Your Health

Regular exercise of moderate intensity can reduce your risk for a heart attack and heart disease (which is the leading cause of mortality world-wide). People who exercise regularly have lower blood pressure and resting heart rate, and exercise can also reduce inflammation in your heart and throughout your body. Inflammation can contribute to a variety of chronic health problems, and improving your cardiovascular system’s ability to pump blood throughout your body can help alleviate the health problems and pain often associated with inflammation. (It’s important to note that repetitive cardio activities like running can also cause inflammation or injury if you push yourself too hard too quickly. If you’re experiencing pain with any workout, see your doctor to determine what’s going on internally.)

While people start and maintain fitness routines for a variety of reasons, one of the main benefits of regular exercise is increased strength and endurance. Your muscles, heart, and lungs get a workout every time you go for a run, take a long bike ride, or swim laps in a pool. When you do so regularly, you can improve your cardiovascular health and contribute to your overall well being. 

Cardio comes in many different forms, and creating a sustainable exercise routine requires finding which forms of cardio you enjoy. Check out our blogs about cardio options for everyone and how to get started with a regular fitness routine to improve your heart health.