Recently it has come to light that trained individuals who exercise 3-4 days per week 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. Let’s examine the 3 benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
Why not for fat loss?
Numerous studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise does not offer the expected benefit when compared to caloric restriction. Further other studies have shown that “weight loss itself provides the major cardioprotective effect of CREX (calorie restriction and exercise) and that the benefits do not depend on which approach to weight loss is used”. In everyday terms weight loss offers the same benefit to heart health as exercise does and exercise alone is an ineffective way to lose weight.
Improved Cardiovascular Efficiency
When the heart is stressed there are several positive adaptations that your body goes through. Let’s look at the top two.
1. 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. Therefore, losing weight in itself is good for the heart, the heart does not have to work as hard to circulate our blood when we move up steps, walk around, or get up and down out of our seats.
2. Increased Stroke Volume: Stoke 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. When your heart is strong it does not have to beat as much because it can circulate more blood per beat. Kind of like when our muscles are strong it’s fewer trips to the car unloading groceries.
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 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. The body’s response to this is to send more insulin to keep up with production. Finally, the cells respond to the increased amount of insulin but then the next time even more insulin is needed for nutrient storage. Caloric restriction helps stop this cascade of too much insulin.
Motivation-Mood-Depression & the Brain
Lack of activity is one of the top areas of research when it comes to brain-related diseases 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 effects. 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.