Recently it has come to light that in trained individuals who exercise 3-4 days per week that they do not see a lot of significant fat loss from the activity. Although this statement has merit in the scientific community it is important to look at cardiovascular activity from a holistic viewpoint beyond just simply a fat loss tool.
Improved Cardiovascular Efficiency
When the heart is stressed (through cardiovascular training) there are several positive adaptations that your body goes through.
Lowered resting heart rate. The heart is your strongest muscle and never rests, ever. It works 24/7 to circulate blood throughout our bodies. The more efficient the heart is the easier its job becomes. This is why losing weight in itself is good for the heart, the heart does not have to work as hard to circulate our blood.
Increased Stroke Volume. Stroke volume or SV is the volume of blood pumped from one ventricle of the heart with each beat. A high stroke volume results in a low resting heart rate. Think of it like this. When your heart is strong it does not have to beat as much because it can circulate more blood per beat.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a fantastic hormone that we simply cannot live without. Its function is to transport glucose to various cells of the body for storage or energy production. Without this transport mechanism we die.
The issue, as with most hormones, comes into play when we have an overabundance of this hormone. When we consistently eat more calories than we need our bodies produce more insulin and over time our cells become “resistant” to insulin. This means that when insulin comes “knocking” they ignore the knock. The bodies response to this is to send more insulin to keep up with production.
A study done on high intensity interval training (HIIT) shows an improvement in insulin sensitivity. This improvement along with caloric restriction can have an amazing impact, especially on pre diabetics or those suffering from metabolic syndrome. Various forms of cardiovascular exercise tend to mobilize and stress large amounts of muscle which depletes glycogen from those areas making them more insulin sensitive (which is good) and can prevent muscle loss and even promote new muscle growth if the stress on the muscle is intense.
Motivation-Mood-Depression & the Brain
Lack of activity is one of the top areas of research when it comes to brain related disease such as Alzheimer’s and dementia and is being linked to depression, anxiety and mood. If you have ever gone on a brisk morning walk then you have felt the affects. The neurotransmitter dopamine or “movement” hormone gives us a sense of well being and happiness. Movement, or cardiovascular exercise remains one of the best ways to get our long term dopamine fix.