5 ways to improve cardiovascular fitness for better performance
We’re all mad about fitness here. It’s not really a fad for us, it’s just the way we live. So, we always welcome foolproof tips and exercises to improve our fitness levels and our training performance. And you know what? Improving your cardiovascular fitness will work in your favour. We’ve compiled 5 tips to incorporate into your daily routine. Let's go!
How to improve cardiovascular fitness for training
When you struggle to climb a few flights of stairs without getting breathless, it’s probably high time to think about improving your cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular performance, also known as cardiorespiratory performance, is the capacity of your heart, lungs and vascular system to supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles during physical activity. Pretty important stuff!
Although 30% - 50% of our cardiorespiratory performance is determined genetically, regular physical activity can help improve your cardiovascular performance. Don’t just rely on your genes - the more you exercise and the more active a routine you keep up, the better your cardiovascular performance will be! That’s actually pretty good news for fitness nuts like us!
But don’t forget, if you have any doubts or have any health issues, you might consider consulting a doctor or physical education specialist before starting a training routine. Then you can exercise safely and start smashing your goals with confidence.
How to measure cardiovascular fitness
A simple way of measuring your cardiovascular fitness is to monitor your body’s response during exercise. So, if you get tired and breathless very quickly when walking or running well... it may be time to boost your fitness levels. Don’t worry – we’ve covered plenty of tips on workout to help you on this journey.
You could use a heart rate monitor to calculate your estimated heart rate during activity. Levels vary depending on your age. It’s recommended that your maximum heart rate should be 220 bpm (beats per minute). So let’s calculate your ideal rate. You will see, it’s quite simple; don’t let the math scare you! Take your age away from this figure. Your heart rate should be 50% - 85% of the maximum figure.
So for example, if you are 20 years old, it will be:
220 - 20 = 200
50% - 85% of 200 = between 100 and 170 bpm
See, not too bad? Need a more specialised assessment? You could take some tests at a doctor’s office to assess heart and lung health during physical exercise such as walking on the treadmill.
If improving your cardio fitness is on your mind but you don’t know where to start, think about seeing a cardiologist.
5 ways to improve your cardio fitness
Sports enthusiasts are sometimes unclear about how to improve their cardio fitness. There are plenty of popular exercises, such as interval training and circuit training that are a great starting point for your cardio fitness goals.
Below, we give you our five tips for improving your cardiovascular performance and, in turn, your fitness levels:
1. Shake up your training schedule
If pumping iron and building muscle has been your main focus, it may be time to bring in some new exercises to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Although many daily exercises and activities are good for cardiovascular fitness, you should still be dedicating at least 10 minutes of your exercise routine to this area, especially if you only lift weights.
These 10 minutes a day are part and parcel of the 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, recommended by the WHO and the NHS. Skipping, walking and running can all be included in your daily routine.
Another classic aerobic exercise is the plank with a jump aka the “burpee”. For those who are still not familiar with it, this exercise alternates between a plank (with your chest touching the floor or not) and a vertical jump with your arms in the air. Try it a few times and see how out of breath you get. A word of warning: burpees get a bad rap, but if you don’t feel full of dread when burpee time comes around, then more power to you!
2. Try High-Intensity Interval Training
All set to step up your workout intensity? Did you know that only one minute of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) a day (yes, that’s right, you’re not seeing things – one minute) can improve the fitness levels of healthy but sedentary folk – and office workers, this means you too! Try training three times a week for six weeks and see what happens!
You are probably saying one minute of exercise would not make a difference, right? But these exercises give results because HIIT is, as its name suggests, very intense.
Interval training, where you alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with rest periods, can also be amazingly effective.
But be careful! You might want to consult a professional before starting high-intensity training, particularly if you have some health issues.
3. Start circuit training
If you get bored out of your brains doing the same old exercises, we have just the answer for you: circuit training. When you alternate between lots of different exercises it gives your body a real workout. And better still, you can make it more enjoyable by training with a fellow fitness nut – a great way to motivate yourself and create accountability!
Skipping, running on the spot? Squats or lifting weights are exercises that are often featured in a circuit and can help improve your cardiovascular fitness.
4. Create Personal Goals
Remember those new year resolutions you made? How about putting them into practice? The trick is to give yourself realistic goals that are suited to your own needs and to what you like doing.
You need to start from where you are in terms of your fitness levels, fitting the level of difficulty of the exercises to what you are used to.
If you rush into it and your fitness levels are not up to scratch, you will end up tired and achy and will feel like giving up early on. And that’s definitely what we are not aiming for. We’ve all been there. So, to set yourself up for success, your goals should be aligned with your own fitness and routine. We believe in you!
5. Stay consistent with cardio workouts.
Always add some aerobic or cardio exercises into your routine. When you have achieved your goal and your fitness levels have improved, keep doing the exercises as a part of your routine for at least a few minutes a day.
As well as bringing some cardio into your routine, your daily habits can be an important factor in contributing to cardiovascular fitness. You may not realise it but climbing stairs and stretching your legs often throughout the day will help you go further, literally. Motivated yet? Time to get that heart rate going!
Written by: Green Park Content
Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.
 World Health Organisation. Field-based measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness to evaluate physical activity interventions.
 Metcalfe, R.S., Babraj, J.A., Fawkner, S.G. et al. Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training. Eur J Appl Physiol 112, 2767–2775 (2012).
 World Health Organisation. WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/336656/9789240015128-eng.pdf
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