University Recreation


Cardiovascular Exercise

What is cardiovascular exercise?

Cardiovascular exercise refers to exercise that causes positive adaptations to the heart and lungs. There are many forms of cardiovascular exercise but they can be categorized into 2 groups: aerobic and anaerobic training. The difference between these 2 systems is the type of fuel used during training and the activities that are performed. Aerobic exercises, such as running or cycling for long durations, will use fats and glycogen stores for energy. Anaerobic exercises, such as sprinting and resistance training, will use mostly muscle glycogen for fuel.

Why should I train this way?

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are numerous. Here are just a few: increased muscular endurance, loss of fat, increased energy, greater well being and a decrease in anxiety and depression. Moreover, aerobic exercise increases the level of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), lowers blood pressure, improves immune system and helps protect the body against many ailments, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

For more information on cardiovascular exercise seek professional advice from a personal trainer and follow the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations for cardiovascular endurance training

Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day, five days per week
Vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes a day, three days per week

Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation.

Examples of activities for cardiovascular endurance training

  • Outdoor activities: walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rollerblading, and cross-country skiing.
  • Machines within the Student Recreation Center: treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, upright bike, stair climber, upper body ergometer, wave-trainer, versa-climber and Precor AMT.
  • University Recreation fitness classes: indoor cycling, boot camp, step aerobics, cardio kickboxing, core cardio, cardio groove, and Nia.

Safety tips

  • Be sure to warm-up your body by performing low-intensity exercise (e.g., walking, cycling) for 5-10 minutes prior to higher intensity exercise (e.g., jogging, jumping rope).
  • When using equipment such as treadmills, attach the emergency safety clip to your clothing.
  • When exercising at a high intensity, it is important to cool-down, by gradually decreasing your intensity prior to stopping.

Exercise Search

Quickly find exercises associated with a particular muscle group.

University Recreation, PO Box 641830, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1830, 509-335-8732, Contact Us