What is cardiovascular (cardio) exercise?

Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that challenges the heart and vascular systems to increase the hearts ability to pump blood and distribute oxygen to the tissues of the body. It also collects waste from the body to be taken to the lungs to be removed.

Cardiovascular exercise is any form of exercise designed to work the cardiovascular system, improving lung and heart health. It is a highly recommended form of exercise for people across all fitness levels, although people should always consult with a doctor before embarking on a new exercise program. Examples of cardio include walking, jogging and cycling.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

Cardio means “heart” and vascular means “vessels that circulate fluids.” Keeping this in mind, cardio exercise typically refers to activities that cause a sustained increase in your heart rate and breathing and consequently, an increase in the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body to the muscles you’re working. The more difficult the activity and the harder you go, the more demand is placed on your cardiovascular system.

Common activities people do for cardio exercise, either outside, or in the gym, include but are not limited to: walking/jogging/running, elliptical machine, cycling or stationary bike, rowing machine, swimming, stair stepper, playing sports such as basketball or soccer, and jumping rope. However, if the above activities are not something you enjoy, strength training can also challenge your cardiovascular system while increasing the tone of your muscles as well. The activities you choose to do should be those that are enjoyable to you, this will increase the likelihood that you’ll stick with it!

Start off gradually by working up to 20-30 minutes of continuous activity at a level of difficulty that challenges you, but at which you can still hold a conversation with someone. If you don’t have the time or are physically unable to do 20-30 minutes continuously, that’s okay, break it up into multiple 10 minute segments until you reach a total of 20-30 minutes for the day. Try to do this at least 2-3 days/week to start and work your way up to 5 days/week.

Cardiovascular exercise is designed to increase your overall stamina, to burn calories, and to improve the function and efficiency of your heart and lungs. It will also help with managing many health risks, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. To be able to do this you must overload your heart and lungs. Overloading starts with slightly elevating the heart rate by increasing your intensity or duration while exercising. The goal is to put a stress on the cardiovascular system. For a beginner this would mean just walking and concentrating on the amount of time you can walk. Start off with as little as 10 minutes and as you gain strength in your cardiovascular system and your legs, you can increase the time and number of days per week you perform your cardio. Once you can maintain a walk for 30 minutes, additional stress on the cardiovascular system is needed to continue to improve. Your cardiovascular exercise might now require new overloads, such as intervals done on cardio equipment such as bikes or treadmills, or increasing your walk pace outside to a jog or a run. With this increase in workload, you are still improving your heart and lung strength but you are also working on another important part of cardiovascular training, the increase in muscle strength. Cardiovascular training is not just the heart and lungs but is a good way to build core, upper body and lower body strength and endurance.

Cardiovascular exercise is designed to help you improve your heart and lungs.  Cardiovascular exercise can vary from running, swimming, biking or even weight training.  Anything that raises your heart rate will be cardiovascular training.  The benefits go a long way too.  Cardiovascular training will help improve your heart rate, blood pressure, burns more calories and decrease your risk for certain diseases.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate for any extended period.  Cardio exercises improves your fitness, stamina and burns calories.  Any activity can count as long as it makes your heart rate increase.
Dominique Adair

Cardiovascular exercise, by definition is any activity that uses large muscle groups (like your legs, hips and buttock muscle) that is moderate intensity and done for a prolonged period of time.  You might say “what’s moderate?” or "How long is prolonged?" and those are great questions.  To make it easy, “cardio” is any activity that makes you slightly breathless and fairly sweaty that you can do for at least 20 minutes.  With my clients I use the “speak not sing” rule.  In other words, the activity should be rigorous enough that you can still speak in short sentences, but you are too breathless to sing (whether or not you can carry a tune!).  Some effective and enjoyable forms of cardiovascular exercise include rapid walking or hill walking, jogging, cycling at a rapid pace or hilly terrain, swimming, different types of dance, and cardio machines including treadmills, elliptical trainers, Nordic tracks and step or Stairmasters.   

Howard Sichel
Physical Therapy
Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate and respiratory rate for a sustained period of time. Many acticities could be included in the list of CV exercise. Most impiortant thing is to find something you enjoy. It doesn't even have to be just one thing. The idea of interval training or cross training would be considered a CV exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise is simply any type of activity that involves and places a stress on your cardiorespiratory system. In other words, any type of activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate can be considered cardiovascular exercise. Activities such as walking, running, jumping rope, cycling, playing with your children, gardening, walking stairs, dancing, and circuit training can all be used as forms of cardio exercise.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Cardiovascular exercise is exercise that increases your metabolic rate. Virtually all exercise does that. While that is the proper definition, we don’t follow just English here, and so an appropriate albeit improper definition really means that cardio raises your heart rate to 80% or greater of your age adjusted max. For men, 220 minus your age is 100% of your cardiovascular max so subtract 20%, I do that by subtracting 10% twice.

So, I am 65; 200-65 means 155; subtract 15.5 twice or 31, means that my heart rate has to be at 124 or greater to be in the cardio range. For women, its 208 minus 82% of their age, its just too tough do that so I just take 220 minus the age for both men and women. Another way of looking at it, is when you start sweating you are the 80% range assuming that you are sweating because of exercise. (And not because you are being interviewed by an IRS agent).

Wendy Batts

Cardio exercise is training that consists of sustained exercise that stresses the cardiorespiratory system. Loosely translated: cardio is consistent movement that makes your heart and lungs work harder than they do at rest. Folks that are used to the gym environment usually think of cardio exercise in terms of sessions of cardio like 30 minutes on a treadmill or 20 minutes on a stationary cycle. But cardio can take many forms: a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a pick-up basketball game, playing in the park with the kids. Cardio exercise can become quite precise when we begin to examine heart rate training zones, training for sport specific goals, cardiac rehab, etc. For most of us, it is just a matter of getting in additional activity each day to maintain our weight and improve the health of our heart and lungs. Start small and choose modes of cardio that suit your preferences and lifestyle.

Cardiovascular exercise uses repetitive motion and helps to work your heart and build endurance. Cycling, walking, and swimming are all cardiovascular because they use large muscles and your heart rate increases with motion. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, also strengthens your bones because it forces them to bear weight.

Cardio exercise is any exercise that focuses on rasing the heart rate such as running, power walking, hiking, rowing or things of that nature.

As with any exercise regiment consult a physician before starting.  When doing a cardio exercise you want to monitor your heart rate.  You should know what your resting heart rate is.  That is what your heart rate is before any activity.  A normal heart rate falls between 70 and 80.  You can calculate your heart rate by finding your pulse either in your wrist or in your neck, counting the beats for 10 seconds and then multiplying that number by six.  You should know what your max heart rate is so that you do not exceed your heart's capabilities.  You can calculate your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

cCrdiovascular exercise can be a number of different excercises that requires the body to take in oxygen (O2) from the atmoslphere into the lungs and tranfer it into the blood, then pump it to the working muscles where it is utilized to oxidize carbohydrates and fats in order to produce energy.

Cardiovascular exercise  is any exercise that increases your heart rate for a prolonged period of time.  It will work your heart and lungs, and you will have an increased heart rate, plus you will be breathing heavier.  Lots of exercises can be considered cardio, it is a matter of keeping up the pace for a prolonged period of time, not stop/start.  Some examples are running, walking (not strolling), bicycling, dancing, swimming, skiing, skating (ice and roller).

The best cardio to do are the ones that you like to do.  You won't be watching the clock, hoping that it's over soon.

Cardio workouts are workouts that challenge your heart and lungs. Cardio workouts are workouts where your heart rate will be elevated. We usually like to see people's heart rates in their target heart rate zones.

To figure how much that would be for you take 220 subtract your age and multiply by .65. Then take 220 subtract your age and multiply by .85. This range is your target heart rate. Your max heart rate (or the rate you don't normally want to go higher than is 220-your age. Cardio vascular workouts should be at least 30 minutes long, however if you do not have 30 minutes you can break it up and perform 3-10 minute long sessions throughout the day, it seems that this is just as effective. Also, you do not have to limit yourself to cardio machines, strength training can be performed in a circuit (perform one exercise after the other) which allows you to keep your heart rate up throughout the entire workout and is a way to kill 2 birds (strength training and cardio vascular workout) with one stone.

Cardiovascular or cardio exercise is training that places stress on your cardiorespiratory system. This could be any form of activity whether it is riding a bike, going for a jog, or going for a walk. As long as you are exerting yourself during the activity then you are training your cardiorespiratory system. Cardio activities have a profound effect on overall physical and mental health. Some of the many benefits include decreases in daily fatigue, depression, and obesity as well as an increased sense of well-being.

Cardiovascular training is exercise for your heart and lungs. During this type of training you are increasing and decreasing you heart rate and increasing its endurance as well as expanding lung capacity.

Your lungs bring oxygen in and your blood cells swing by and pick up this oxygen delivering it throughout your body. If you happen to be riding a bike or running, the muscles in your legs are working hard and burning up the oxygen quickly in their cells. Your muscles have to have oxygen to keep moving. The more stress on the muscles the more oxygen needed.

By bouncing your heart rate up and down and moving through your target zones, you are training your system to respond accordingly. Pick up the pace the heart pumps faster to bring in the oxygen rich blood to the muscles working. The faster the circulation, the less oxygen the blood cells are able pick up but what it does pick up is delivered quickly. Slow your pace and you slow your heart rate and circulation allowing the blood cells to be engorged with oxygen within the lungs.

In short, when I need you I need you now and when you get the chance to refuel take it and be ready to explode again.

Cardio exercise is at the top of my list and what I get all my private clients to do in every workout. Why? Because I watched Sylvester Stallone in ROCKY as a kid and it is imbedded in my brain. Well.... not really, it is all of the ENORMOUS benefits cardio offers. Cardio is any exercise that increases your heart rate. If you are just starting out take it slow by doing 10 minutes of moderate exercise and build day by day. Just like you want to work your muscles you want to work your heart. It is a muscle and needs and wants to be strengthened. The stronger it gets the more oxygen is deposited to cells in your muscles.

Check out my free cardio video on my homepage and lets build that heart strength. I want a more healthy you! 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
By doing cardiovascular exercise -- that is, any activity that raises your heart rate for a sustained period of time (sorry, watching George Clooney movies doesn't count) -- you'll increase your overall stamina, burn calories, and improve the function and efficiency of your heart, as well as lower your blood pressure. Getting your body to sweat also helps you to release toxins that would otherwise build up in your tissues.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.