The countless reasons to exercise and get moving are talked about on a daily basis, but we often focus purely on the results we can see with our own eyes, such as reduction in body fat, increased muscle mass or improved skin tone. What most people don’t realise is that it’s the benefits that go unnoticed that are actually the most impressive; helping to improve or maintain our health in ways we might not even know. We sat down with fitness expert and former competitive sprinter Samantha Clayton to find out more about how being active can have a positive effect on our heart and other aspects of our health.
“Exercising on a regular basis has to many wonderful health benefits”, says Samantha.
“In my opinion, the positive effects of exercise that can’t be appreciated visually are the most important.”
“These include improved cardiac function, improved muscular strength, improved joint mobility and an improved sense of wellbeing. Although you can’t see these benefit in order to appreciate them, the good news is that you can feel them; especially the heart health benefits.”
After focusing on a cardiovascular fitness programme for a few weeks, you should start to feel exercise becoming easier and getting less out of breath during everyday tasks. “Cardiorespiratory exercise (also known simply as ‘cardio’) is the term used to describe exercise that works your heart and circulatory system,” explains Samantha. “This system has to work all day every day in order to keep us alive”.
“As your heart is a muscle and exercise helps to improve your heart’s blood pumping capabilities, cardio training could also be called ‘heart strength training”.
Going into detail, she continues, “Your heart beats on average 100,000 times a day, sending over 7,500 litres of blood around your body. Every time you increase your heart rate during prolonged cardio exercise, your heart has to pump blood at a faster rate. Doing this on a regular basis helps your heart to become more efficient at pumping blood, meaning it will soon have to work less to sustain bodily functions during rest; giving you a lower resting heart rate.”
If you wish to reap the health benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise, Samantha recommends adding it to your schedule 3-5 days per week. Exercises that promise cardiovascular improvement include walking, running, cycling, dancing and swimming, or any activity that gets out of breath.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.