The heart is your body’s most important muscle, so it needs working out just as hard as the rest of your muscles.
Cardiovascular exercise is all about increasing the flow of blood and oxygen around your body, and there are so many ways to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping faster.
But every now and then, it pays to mix up your usual fitness routine to push yourself that bit further and try something new. Not only does this help to keep your exercise routine interesting and different, but it can also help to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
What is cardiovascular fitness?
Cardiovascular fitness and cardiovascular exercise are not quite the same. Cardiovascular fitness refers to your ability to supply your heart and lungs with enough blood and oxygen to keep them functioning at their best, whereas cardiovascular exercise is the type of physical activity that can help you to boost that fitness.
Working on your cardiovascular fitness could help to increase your strength, stamina, and performance during exercise.
If you often find yourself out of breath or don’t feel as physically fit as you’d like to, there are steps you can take to improve your cardiovascular fitness. These include a range of exercises that can easily fit into your daily routine or be done at home, such as:
Short-term benefits of cardio exercise
Aerobic or cardio exercise can give your mood a boost as the increased flow of oxygen to your brain can trigger the release of endorphins, leaving you on a high. Your brain also releases dopamine when you get to the end of a workout, giving you a sense of achievement.
Together, these can leave you feeling calmer, less stressed and invigorated for the rest of the day.
Long-term effects of cardio fitness
Working on your cardiovascular fitness could transform your entire quality of life, especially when it’s combined with a healthy diet.
Regular cardio exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight, subsequently reducing your risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, and lowering your likelihood of being diagnosed with heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
4 out-of-the-box ways to improve your cardio fitness
Try one of these four ways to improve cardiovascular fitness in a fun, interesting way that’s guaranteed to keep you motivated:
While hot yoga isn’t high-energy enough to be considered a cardio exercise, it can still help you to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.
Many hot yoga poses can expand your lung capacity, helping with the overall health of your cardiovascular system. What’s more, taking yourself out of your comfort zone and working out slightly different muscles than you’re used to can stretch you – in every sense of the word.
Climbing, either indoors or outdoors, is a great way to improve your cardio fitness, as scrambling to find an accessible route puts your muscles and your cardiovascular system under stress, giving your whole body a good workout.
View this post on Instagram
🗣️ "So happy to have found maybe the ONLY dry boulder this weekend 😅😍 And another super one 👌🏽💎💎 ⠀ Not the most graceful climbing but in my defence, my shoe was torn and wet 😂" ⠀ @asyagrechka showing us exactly how it's done 💪 (even with less-than-ideal footwear 😂) ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #GardenofLife #GoL #gardenoflifeuk #newyearresolution #newyearsresolution #newyearresolutions #newyearsresolutions #newyearfitness #newyearfit #newyearnewme #healthcare #healthylifestyle #healthcoach #healthy #healthier #healthbenefits #healthyliving #health #healthyeating #healthierme #fitnessinspiration #fitnessgoals #fitnessmotivation #fitnesslover #fitnessaddicted #fitnesslifestyle #fitnessbody #fitnessjunkie #winterworkout #winterfitness
You don’t need to go to a dedicated climbing wall for this type of workout – make the most of any trees or rocks close to your home to get the invigorating benefits of being out in nature while you exercise.
Martial arts can give your whole body a workout, and can make you physically and mentally stronger.
Going to a martial arts class can be a fun, sociable way to exercise, and it allows you to work on your self-defence skills, so you can feel as though you’re learning a valuable life skill while also working on your cardiovascular fitness.
Trampolining is an incredibly enjoyable way to work out, and it’s a great way to have a break from your usual fitness routine. All of the jumping involved in this type of exercise can provide you with an excellent aerobic workout, but you’re unlikely to even notice that you’re exercising as you’ll be having so much fun.
View this post on Instagram
Reach for the stars 🤩 ⠀ Trampolining at its absolute best 🙌 ⠀ We love this incredible trampoline workout by @allie.tumblez – what amazing skills 👍💪 ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #GardenofLife #gardenoflifeuk #trampolineworkout #trampolinefitness #fitnessinspiration #fitnessmotivation #fitnesslover #outdoorworkout #fullbodyworkout #acrobatics #backflip
If you’re exercising more to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you might want to supplement your usual diet with a protein powder to help you increase your muscle mass. Explore the vegan protein range available from Garden of Life.