Long-Term Effects of Exercise on the Cardiovascular System

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With obesity a growing epidemic in North America, more and more people are trying to find fun and relatively easy ways to keep themselves healthy and in shape.

Cardiovascular exercise is one key component to becoming, and staying, more physically fit, with many positive short-term and long-term effects on general health and fitness.


Cardiovascular exercise has proven to be the most effective type of exercise, as far as burning the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. Cardiovascular exercise has also been proven to have many short- and long-term health benefits. The Texas Heart Institute has noted that performing routine cardiovascular exercise affects the entire cardiovascular system. Through long term, routine exercise the heart, blood vessels, skeletal muscles and red blood cells all grow in size, allowing the body to transport more oxygen and nutrients and remove more waste products through the bloodstream over time.


Many different types of cardio exercise abound: running, cycling, aerobics, swimming, boxing, just to name a few. No one cardio exercise proves to be categorically superior to another. It might take longer to burn the same amount of calories doing one exercise over the other, but if done at the same intensity, one does not prove superior to your cardiovascular system. However, if you are looking to burn the highest amount of calories in the shortest amount of time, running proves to be superior over walking and cycling. Also, skipping rope is one of the best calorie burning exercises you can do. When choosing a cardio program, though, select one that is the most fun for you, and the most doable considering your current health and physical condition.

Time Frame

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing at least 20 minutes of vigorous cardio training a minimum of three times per week, or doing at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio training five times per week.


Cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular exercise is defined as any exercise that will get your heart rate to 50 to 80 per cent of its maximum rate. It is also defined as any exercise that involves your heart and respiratory systems. When you perform cardio exercises, you should be breathing heavy, but also should not be so out of breath that you would not be able to hold a conversation, if needed. By making cardio exercises a part of your daily routine, you will see positive long term health effects. Some of these benefits are a reduction in body fat, improved circulation, decreased risk of heart disease, a lowered resting heart rate, longer life expectancy, and increased levels of good cholesterol.


Some of the long-term effects of consistent cardio exercise include improved athletic performance, improved muscle tone and strength, lower blood pressure, enlargement of blood vessels, red blood cells, and heart tissue which help transport more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles while ridding the muscles of more waste products simultaneously. Some of the short-term effects of cardio exercise include an improved energy level, and a decrease in depression or an improved mood. While you will see these results right away, they usually last long-term also. There is no doubt about it: exercise has valuable effects on not only health in general, but also on the mind and entire body.