Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cardio gets your heart pumped now – but what about later?

Cardio burns calories immediately and gets your heart working. But did you know that different kinds of cardio can work your heart differently? And did you know that working your heart differently has different effects on your blood pressure? It’s true.

A Belgian study tested the effects of two different kinds of cardio exercise. Participants exercised over three 10-week periods, and during the first and third periods, they did either higher or lower intensity exercise. In between, the participants were sedentary. The only thing that the researchers changed was the intensity of the exercise the participants performed for one hour per week three times a week.

Before, during and after the study, researchers measured systolic blood pressure (SBP) and heart rate (HR). They found that endurance training at both lower and higher intensity significantly affected systolic blood pressure levels, but – and here’s the important conclusion – chronic cardio exercise did not significantly reduce systolic blood pressure. They also found that if you want to lower your resting heart rate, you need to do high-intensity training.

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: If you want to do cardio, know how it affects your heart. If you want to lower your blood pressure, increase intensity. To lower your resting heart rate, increase intensity. And, the research seems to recommend avoiding excessive bouts of long cardio, as this has no effect.

Source: Cornelissen VA, Verheyden B, Aubert AE, Fagard RH. Effects of aerobic training intensity on resting, exercise and post-exercise blood pressure, heart rate and heart-rate variability. J Hum Hypertens. 25 June 2009; doi: 10.1038/jhh.2009.51.

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