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Why Cardio is so Important
Research shows that cardiovascular fitness helps protect against heart disease. As fitness goes up, the incidence of heart disease goes down.
Working your way to fitness—and health—may be easier than you think. When you are able to walk briskly, jog, or swim comfortably for a half hour or more, you’ve achieved cardiovascular health: a strong, healthy heart and healthy lungs able to sustain activities that require oxygen. “Put simply, the more oxygen one can utilize, the more ‘fit’ that person is,” says Judy Wilson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The means to cardiovascular fitness is cardiovascular exercise. “Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that involves the large muscles in the body, raises the heart rate, and is continuous and rhythmic,” says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. This includes walking, biking, jogging, swimming, and even dancing. Cardiovascular exercise can be done in a gym, a park, a pool, or the comfort of your living room.