Cardiovascular fitness (aerobic) is the capacity of the circulatory system to supply enough oxygen to the working muscles.
Cardiovascular system comprises of the heart and blood vessels. It is responsible for the supply of the nutrients to the tissues of the body and, most importantly, the oxygen. Cardiovascular fitness defines the ability of the cardiovascular system along with the lungs to provide enough oxygen supply to the working muscles and ensure the movements.
Various diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle limit the possibility of the body to endure the physical exertion.
Assessment of cardiovascular endurance
- Maximal Oxygen Consumption Test (VO2max)
Cardiovascular endurance is estimated by the measurement of the maximum volume of the consumed oxygen (VO2max). This indicates the volume of the oxygen that can be absorbed in the lungs and spread via the blood through all of the body to the muscles.
- Vmax – simplified version of the VO2max test
- Multistage Shuttle Run Test
- Yo-yo endurance test
- Treadmill test (Graded Exercise Test, Bruce Protocol Test)
- The 3-Minute Step Test
- The Rockport Walk Test
- University of Montreal Track Test
- Harvard Step Test
Ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness
- To avoid/quit smoking;
- To limit alcohol consumption;
- To control body weight, maintain body weight according to normal body-mass index;
- To maintain a healthy diet (Meditteranean diet is considered the healthiest) and regular meals;
- To sleep enough – at least 8 hours per day for an adult;
- To avoid stress and have enough rest;
- To exercise regularly –the training should last for 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week;
How the body increases its endurance
As a person trains regularly the body adapts to the increasing needs of the organism. The diaphragm and intercostal muscles become stronger and able to work more effectively. In the lungs increases the number of capillaries that supply with blood the alveoli. At the same time the heart muscle becomes stronger and pumps blood more effectively. The muscles of the body are better supplied with blood as well. There are more and more mitochondria in the muscle cells, which produce the energy.
Changes in fit body
- Lower blood pressure than previously;
- Lower heart rate;
- Decreased risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, stroke and heart disease;
- Lower fat mass;
- Increased bone mass and bone density (especially legs);
- Increased energy;
- Improved immunity;
Any cardiovascular diseases or metabolic disorders increase the complication risk during exercising and require consultation with the doctor prior to the training. Long-term sedentary lifestyle and severe obesity require careful and gradual exercising.
To boost cardiovascular fitness a person should train for 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week. During exercises the heart rate should reach at least 60-90% of the individual’s maximum heart rate.
The recommended activities include brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, yoga, jumping, running etc.