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Updating your CV

In last month’s feature titled “what do you want” we talked about the need to identify what you want to achieve before you can begin your fitness journey effectively: so, in this month’s issue we are looking at your CV. I don’t mean your curriculum vitae but rather your cardio vascular fitness. To update or improve your cardio vascular fitness we must first understand the cardio vascular system.

CARDIO VASCULAR SYSTEM: So what is your cardio vascular system? Essentially it is the closed loop system of the heart and vessels within us all that are used for transporting blood to and from the tissues. It supplies the tissues with nutrients and oxygen as well as removing carbon dioxide and waste. Think of it as the central heating system in your house. The boiler (pump) can be likened to your heart and the pipework represent your blood vessels.

INTERESTING FACT NO.1: If you could stretch out all of an adult human’s blood vessels, they would be about 60,000 miles long, enough to go round the world twice or 1/3 of the way to the moon!!

CARDIO RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: If you include your windpipe (trachea) and lungs in the cardio vascular system it is known as your cardio respiratory system. Together they allow the introduction of oxygen to and subsequent removal of carbon dioxide from the blood.

INTERESTING FACT NO.2: The total surface area of an average adult’s lungs is about the same as a tennis court.

SO HOW DO WE IMPROVE OUR CV FITNESS? Unsurprisingly the best way to improve it is through cardio vascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise or simply ‘cardio’. Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to produce energy (aerobic respiration), unlike anaerobic exercise, which we shall cover next month.

BENEFITS: There are a number of valuable health benefits associated with cardio vascular exercise such as lowering blood pressure, burning calories, improving your mood, lowering your resting heart rate and improving your stamina. In essence your cardio vascular system becomes more efficient and your heart gets stronger. In technical terms this helps us improve our VO2 max or the ability of our body to take in, transport and utilise oxygen.

Aerobic exercise can also potentially reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

“BRILLIANT BUT HOW DO I TRAIN AEROBICALLY?” I hear you ask. Well, energy for aerobic activity is produced slowly but in great supply and this mirrors how we should train our aerobic system: slowly but for longer periods of time (as a general rule we want to avoid training our anaerobic systems). Aerobic respiration powers activities in which your muscles are used in continuous rhythmic or repetitive movements, moderately increasing your heart rate and breathing while building your physical endurance.

So get on your bike, go for a fast walk, moderate jog, swim or whatever you enjoy but try to maintain an effort where you can hold a fairly comfortable conversation.

Next month we will take a closer look at anaerobic training.

Andy