What Are Cardiovascular Exercises?

focused woman exercising in treadmill while listening to music

Cardiovascular Exercise


Cardiovascular exercise involves repetitive movement of large muscles to increase heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. It improves the cardiovascular system’s ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body.

woman smiling while standing on treadmill cardiovascular


  • Aerobic cardio exercises like running, cycling, and swimming cause your heart rate to rise to 50-85% of max for an extended period.
  • Higher heart rate and respiration delivers more nutrient-rich blood and oxygen to muscles being used.
  • Over time, regular cardio improves heart strength, lung capacity, and blood vessel elasticity.
  • Cardio also burns calories and body fat, boosting metabolism. Weight training alone does little for cardiovascular fitness.


  • Low impact: walking, elliptical machine, moderate cycling
  • High impact: running, swimming, jumping rope, competitive sports


  • Aerobic exercise: relies on oxygen for energy production
  • Anaerobic exercise: relies on glucose without oxygen


  • How much cardio should I do? Aim for 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week.
  • Is cardio or weight training better? Both provide different benefits. A balanced routine is best for overall health.
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  • HIIT – involves short bursts of intense cardio followed by rest periods.
  • Resistance training – improves muscular strength and endurance.
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