Since the heart is a muscle it can become stronger and larger through exercise that progressively increases the bodies demand for oxygen. This type of exercise is called aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise requires a constant and adequate supply of oxygen. The respiratory and cardiovascular systems transport the oxygen. There is another term called anaerobic which is the bodies ability to produce energy by metabolizing carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen. Cardiovascular training is simply training that involves and places a stress on the cardiovascular and respiratory system. Example activities would be, walking or running on a treadmill, playing basketball and even weight training. Cardiovascular exercise can also be used as a warm up to prepare the body for physical activity and as a cool down to transition the body back from exercise to a steady state of rest.

Performing cardiovascular exercise as a part of your weekly exercise routine has such benefits as decreased daily fatigue, anxiety, depression, coronary artery disease, cholesterol levels, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis and obesity. Cardiovascular exercise increases work, recreational and sports performance, sense of well being, glucose tolerance and immunity. With regular exercise, the body increases its output of blood and blood volume increases, which allows more blood to get to the cells. The result is a greater flow of oxygen to a greater number of cells throughout the body, which helps the muscle cells and the cardiovascular system work more efficiently.

When the goal is body fat reduction, the key is to focus on burning calories, not burning fat. There is still a popular trend of thinking that there is a magical “fat burning zone” for cardio exercise, however body fat reduction can only take place when there is more energy burned than consumed. This also is known as the “Law of Thermodynamics”. Oxygen allows fat and glucose to be burned as fuel. This produces waste products of carbon dioxide and water. You can think of it like a car burning gasoline, with the body's exhaust being carbon dioxide and water.

An important tip to remember is when starting a cardiovascular training program for the first time it is wise to obtain a certified fitness trainer who can design the proper program for your specific fitness level. A program designed by a qualified trainer can save you from injury and over training and monitor the proper heart rate training zones for your particular level of cardiovascular fitness.

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