Cardio-respiratory endurance is the ability of the body to perform prolonged, large-muscle, dynamic exercise at moderate-to-high levels of intensity and the capacity of the heart-lung system to deliver oxygen for sustained energy production.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Always remember to warm up before cardio exercise and cool down after!
Gives the body time to redirect blood to active muscles and the heart time to adapt to increased demands. Warming up helps spread synovial fluid throughout the joints, which helps protect their surfaces from injury. Performing your chosen cardio activity at an easy pace for the first five minutes is a good warm up. Gentle range of motion stretching can be a nice addition to a warm up as it prepares the joints and muscles for the range of motion your cardio activity might require. Keep in mind that warm up stretching is not the same as flexibility training and that you will need to devote time to flexibility training at another point in your workout.
After exercise is important for returning the body to a non-exercising state. Cooling down helps prevent the sudden pooling of blood in the veins and ensures adequate circulation to the skeletal muscles, heart and brain. Ending your cardio activity at a low intensity works well as a cool down.
Frequency of Training
To improve both cardio-respiratory fitness and maintain body fat near optimum levels, you should exercise at least three days per week with no more than two days between workouts. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends three to five days per week for most cardio-respiratory fitness programs.
Duration of Training
The duration of cardio-respiratory exercise will vary with fitness level and personal goals. For overall health and wellbeing a goal of a duration of 30 minutes per workout is recommended. If you are fit and wish to increase your cardio-respiratory endurance you can increase your duration and/or intensity. For those who are new to exercise a duration of 5 to 10 minutes is sufficient to initiate cardio-respiratory endurance improvement.
The recommended 30 minutes includes warm up and cool down:5 minutes warm up + 20 minutes training + 5 minutes cool down = 30 minutes
Intensity of Training
Intensity is the most important factor in achieving training effects. You must exercise intensely enough to stress your body so that fitness improves.
Monitoring Exercise Intensity
A good way to monitor the intensity of cardio-respiratory endurance exercise is to measure your heart rate. During your cardio training you can monitor your intensity by counting your heart's beats per minute, abbreviated bpm.
To experience cardio-respiratory exercise benefits it is generally recommended that cardio exercises be performed at an intensity of 50%-80% of your maximum heart rate. This is referred to as your "target heart rate zone". Persons with very low fitness levels, can benefit from training intensities as low as 40-50% of maximum heart rate. Remember these numbers are estimations and are used only as guidelines.
Calculating your target heart rate zone
- Estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
- Multiply your maximum heart rate by 50% and 80% to get the low and high ends of your zone.
Your Target Heart Rate Zone
(220 - ______ ) x 0.50 = _________ bpm, lower end of zone
(220 - ______ ) x 0.80 = _________ bpm, higher end of zone