BENEFITS OF CARDIORESPIRATORY ENDURANCE EXERCISE
Cardiorespiratory endurance exercise helps the body become more efficient and better able to cope with physical challenges. It also lowers risk for many chronic diseases.
Improved Cardiorespiratory Functioning
Earlier, this chapter described some of the major changes that occur in the cardiorespiratory system when you exercise, such as increases in cardiac output and blood pressure, breathing rate, and blood flow to the skeletal muscles. In the short term, all these changes help the body respond to the challenge of exercise. When performed regularly, endurance exercise also leads to permanent adaptation in the cardiorespiratory system (Figure 3.2). This improvement reduces the effort required to perform everyday tasks and enables the body to respond to physical challenges. This, in a nutshell, is what it means to be physically fit.
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Endurance exercise enhances the heart’s health by:
• Maintaining or increasing the heart’s own blood and oxygen supply.
• Improving the heart muscle’s function, so it pumps more blood per beat. This improved function keeps the heart rate lower both at rest and during exercise. The resting heart rate of a fit person is often 10-20 beats per minute lower than that of an unfit person. This translates into as many as 10 million fewer beats in the course of a year.
• Strengthening the heart’s contractions.
• Increasing the heart’s cavity size (in young adults).
Increased levels of neurotransmitters; constant or slightly increased blood flow to the brain.
Increased heart rate and stroke volume (amount of blood pumped per beat).
Increased pulmonary ventilation (amount of air breathed into the body per minute). More air is taken into the lungs with each breath and breathing rate increases.
Reduced blood flow to the stomach, intestines, liver, and kidneys, resulting in less activity in the digestive tract and less urine output.