How cardiovascular health helps you achieve any fitness goal

We are nearly one month through 2019 and unfortunately, many of you have already failed to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.

Improving cardiovascular fitness through activities such as biking, running and rowing reduces the risk of getting cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Since a majority of resolutions are typically fitness-related goals, it’s never too late to start back up or begin a new plan. Whether it’s weight loss, improving cardiovascular fitness or building muscle mass – the most important body part to focus on is the heart, says WinSport’s Athletic Development Specialist, Tara McNeil.

“It’s your body’s engine and it affects everything,” McNeil says. “Improving your heart heatlh/cardiovascular fitness can reduce the stress to your other organs and systems, increases your stamina and energy levels throughout the day, helps with your tolerance to stress overall, and reduces your mortality rate by 25 percent.”

Aside from those benefits, cardiovascular fitness also helps lower your risk of and/or improve your recovery from a laundry list of other health issues including cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps with recovery from all types of stress.

“A healthy cardiovascular system also supports your immune system and reduces the frequency of colds and the flu or speeds up recovery when we do fall ill,” McNeil says.

How to improve heart health

So how do you improve heart health? The simple answer is exercise.

“Unless you are adjusting your training for sport-specific performances, everybody should be doing three to five days of per week of aerobic exercise,” McNeil says. “Biking, rowing, swimming, running and walking briskly are all great ways to exercise your heart.”

Length and intensity

McNeil says you should exercise at a moderate level consistently for 30 minutes or longer, three to five times per week.

“A good way to tell what a moderate pace is to be able to talk in full sentences, but not so much that you could sing,” McNeil explains.

Importance of warm-up and cool down

A warm up is extremely important prior to performing any aerobic exercise.

“During a warmup, hormones are released that allow blood vessels to open more fully to prevent spikes in blood pressure and lower stress on the heart,” McNeil says. “Similarly, cool down for five to 10 minutes to return your blood flow to near normal levels in a gradual fashion, which reduces the chance of any heart-related issues (arrhythmias etc.) post-exercise.”

WinSport’s strength and cardio classes are a great way to improve your heart-health and overall fitness. Visit the team at the Performance Training Centre for more information on memberships and classes or go to