Fit Tip: Cardio Heart Health

The goal of cardiovascular training is to improve VO2 (oxygen uptake or breath) in order to train the heart and respiratory system. Therefore, movement needs to be continuous and of sufficient intensity to raise the heart rate (HR) and keep it up to a desirable level for a sustained period, suitable for each participant.  To accomplish this goal the Instructor needs to incorporate a variety of motor moves, cue for changes of direction to use a variety of the large muscle groups, and include a combination of small to large ranges of motion. This will allow each participant to work at their own pace without over stressing any one muscle group or fatigue breathing before reaching their target HR.   

Cardiovascular exercises can include aerobic classes, running, cross-country skiing, pole walking, swimming, hiking, dancing and speed walking – in other words any movement that can become continuous for a long enough period of time.  People should choose their type of exercise based on what they enjoy.  If people have fun performing the activity, they are more likely to continue doing it. 

The benefits of cardiovascular training are multiple:

  • improves breathing  and creates endurance thorough the development of the anaerobic and aerobic systems
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and diabetes
  • decreases resting heart rate, and can improve blood pressure
  • improves the efficiency, size and strength of the heart muscle
  • improves and strengthens the respiratory system
  • can reduce body fat composition
  • releases natural endorphins in our bodies which make us feel better


  •  Talk test – Always ask throughout a program “how are you doing?”
  • Rate of perceived exertion – Ask “where are you on the scale of 1 -10?”
  • Heart rate monitor – Heart rates are not accurate for those on medication.
  • Manually Taking heart rate manually – not very effective for many reasons but most people cannot find their pulse nor count properly. If you choose this option take a 10 second count and multiply by 6 to get a heart rate reading for one minute.

Whether you are training land or water – everyone should participate in cardiovascular exercise at least 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes total duration each day. You may choose to do intervals of exercise throughout the day; however if you do more intense cardio -be sure to warm up safely and thoroughly.