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The basics of cardiovascular conditioning

As the cornerstone of physical fitness, cardiovascular conditioning uses the large muscles of the body in a rhythmic and continual manner to increase heart rate and breathing for a sustained period of time. Examples of cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, jogging, running, swimming, bicycling, rollerblading and cross-country skiing.

When selecting a conditioning exercise, use care and consideration. Depending on your goals, your current physical condition and medical history, certain types of conditioning exercises may be better than others. However, it's generally best to employ several appropriate exercise choices. Not only will this help to reduce overuse injuries while at the same time create a balanced conditioning program, it may also enhance your enjoyment of cardiovascular conditioning and thus increase the likelihood of your continued participation.

Although cardiovascular training of 30 to 60 minutes/per session is preferred, it may take a couple of weeks to build up to this level of training. To progress, your goal should be to engage in cardiovascular exercise for at least three times a week using your current training level as the baseline.

Cardiovascular conditioning dos and don'ts:

  • Consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
  • Dress properly for your activity and environment. To reduce the risk of injury:
  • Use a helmet when bicycling or rollerblading
  • Wear wrist guards and kneepads when rollerblading
  • Dress in layers for cross-country skiing.
  • Use extra care to keep your feet warm and dry in cold weather.

For additional questions on cardiovascular training, any other sports medicine topic, or to schedule a Free Injury Evaluation, call the Aurora Sports Medicine Hotline™ at (414) 219-7776 or (800) 219-7776.