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Get your heart pumping

Determined to take your cardio fitness to the next level? Before you jump back on the treadmill, find out exactly how it is helping you burn fat with expert advice brought to you by Parkway Shenton.
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Get Your Heart Pumping – Great Eastern Life

Determined to take your cardio fitness to the next level? Before you jump back on the treadmill, find out exactly how it is helping you burn fat with expert advice brought to you by Parkway Shenton.

Step 1: Know why you must keep doing cardio

  1. Live longer
    The impact of cardiovascular fitness on our longevity is, in fact, greater than the deleterious effect of other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even smoking.

  2. Lose weight
    The benefits of regular exercise are far reaching and extend beyond increasing your life span. It promotes fat burning and aids in weight loss or weight management.

  3. Prevent osteoporosis, improve cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure
    Regular cardio exercise also helps maintain bone and lean body mass, and prevents osteoporosis. It also increases the proportion of good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol), improves circulation and lowers blood pressure.

Step 2: Expert explanations on how cardio works


Determined to take your cardio fitness to the next level? Before you jump back on the treadmill, find out exactly how it is helping you burn fat with expert advice brought to you by Parkway Shenton.

Cardiovascular fitness, also known as cardiovascular endurance, is a measure of how well your body is able to transport oxygen to your working muscles during exercise as well as the ability of your working muscles to absorb and use that oxygen. There are two components to cardiovascular fitness; the transport of oxygen to the working muscles and absorption of and the utilisation of that transported oxygen.

  1. Transport of oxygen to the working muscles
    The transport of oxygen is dependent on the coordinated activities of the cardiovascular system; i.e. the heart, lungs and blood vessels. This includes variables such as the stroke volume of the heart, the heart rate, the cardiac output, the perfusion of the lungs as well as respiration rate. The more efficiently these organs are able to coordinate their functions, the better they are able to transport oxygen to maintain the required level of exertion.

  2. The absorption and utilization of oxygen
    The other component, absorption and utilisation of oxygen at the muscle site, is dependent on many chemical and structural factors, such as the extent of capillary distribution, the efficiency of the molecular transport systems into and out of the muscle cells and the mitochondrial density (mitochondria are organelles within cells that are responsible for metabolism).

  3. How is it measured?
    Cardiovascular fitness is measured through VO2max testing, which is essentially the maximum amount of oxygen the body is able to consume to generate energy for physical activities. Although this is usually measured in a laboratory under controlled conditions, one can obtain a reasonably accurate estimate using one of many VO2max calculators available on the internet.

Step 3: Achieve optimal cardiovascular fitness

To improve one's cardiovascular fitness, the mainstay is to perform any type of prolonged exercise at an adequate intensity and frequency. Any physical activity that increases the heart rate and maintains that elevation for a prolonged period of time will improve your cardiovascular fitness.

  1. Set your parameters and pace
    To achieve optimal results, be selective in terms of the type of activity, frequency, duration and intensity in accordance to your personal exercise physiology level and fitness parameters. Things to consider include your age, current fitness level as well as any existing medical conditions which may limit your activities. Know that there aren't any one-size-fits-all approach that will optimise cardiovascular fitness for all.

    Great news for the couch potatoes! Studies have shown that the most benefit is achieved when an individual goes from being sedentary to being moderately active. Less is gained when an individual goes from being moderately active to being very active. Nevertheless, any type of improvement in cardiovascular fitness will help you achieve significant health benefits.

  2. Get in 150 minutes a week
    The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) currently recommends 150 minutes of accumulated moderate physical activity every week for adequate health benefits. Moderate activity is defined as any activity similar in intensity to brisk walking at 5 — 6.5 km/hour; which results in a weekly expediture of 600 — 1,200 calories.

  3. Consult your physician first
    It is prudent to consult your physician prior to embarking on any exercise regimen; particularly if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle, are over 45 years of age or have any significant risk factors for heart disease (eg. Family history of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity or smoker).

  4. Start low and go slow
    Once clearance from the physician has been given, remember to gradually ease yourself into any fitness program; adhering to the dictum “start low and go slow”. In due course, your cardiovascular fitness and total well-being can and will be improved significantly.

Your Live Great Summary:

How does cardio fitness help you?

It helps your muscle maintain the required level of exertion during exercise, which allows you to burn more fat and generate more energy.

Let’s get started!

  1. Exercise for 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity and frequency — this includes brisk walking at 5 — 6.5 km per hour

  2. Set a comfortable pace. Remember, start low and go slow.

  3. Speak to your physician to set your personal fitness parameters. Take into consideration your age, current fitness level, existing medical conditions.

  4. Lose weight, lower your blood pressure and increase your life span — enjoy the benefits from improving your cardiovascular fitness!

Ready to get your heart pumping? Check out these 6 must try running groups or pick an activity for you and your loved ones this weekend from our A-Z guide to fitness.

About the contributer

This article is brought you by medical experts at Parkway Shenton. Visit their website at http://www.parkwayshenton.com or find out more about their exclusive Health & Wellness offers for Great Eastern Policyholders here.

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