Does your current lifestyle include enough physical activity 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five or more days a week to support health and wellness? Does your lifestyle go beyond this level to include enough vigorous physical activity and exercise to build physical fitness? What changes could you make in your lifestyle to develop physical fitness?

Cardiorespiratory endurance is a key component of health-related fitness,

• Resting blood pressure decreases.

• Metabolism in skeletal muscle is enhanced, which improves fuel use.

• The level of antioxidant chemicals in the body increases and oxidative decreases. During metabolism, the body naturally produces chemicals called free radicals (oxidative stress) that cause cell damage. Exercise training increases the production of antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals.


A healthy heart can better withstand the strains of everyday life, the stress of occasional emergencies, and the wear and tear of time.

Cardiovascular endurance training also improves the functioning of the body’s chemical systems, particularly in the muscles and liver. These changes enhance the body’s ability to derive energy from food, allow the body to perform more exercise with less effort, increase sensitivity to insulin, and prevent type 2 diabetes. Exercise reduces blood vessel inflammation, which is linked to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Physically fit people also have healthier, more resilient genes. Exercise preserves gene structures called telomeres, which form the ends of the DNA strands and hold them together. Over time the telomeres shorten, reducing their effectiveness, which triggers illness and death. Exercise helps to keep them from getting too short.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is a central component of health-related fitness because heart and lung function is so essential to overall good health. A person can’t live very long or very well without a healthy heart or healthy lungs. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness is linked with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, stroke, depression, and anxiety. A moderate level of cardiorespiratory fitness can help compensate for certain health risks, including excess body fat: People with higher levels of body fat but who are otherwise fit have been found to have lower death rates than those who are lean but have low cardiorespiratory fitness.

You can develop cardiorespiratory endurance through activities that involve continuous, rhythmic movements of large-muscle groups, such as the legs. Such activities include walking, jogging, cycling, and group aerobics.

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