Run Off The Bleak Midwinter

When the weather turns colder it is worth remembering the benefits of keeping our weekly running ritual going, even though it is often freezing, raining and dark.

Cardio-vascular exercise is great for weight control and de-stressing but there are other fantastic benefits too. We become fitter, we breathe better and our heart gets stronger- so pretty essential for good health.

Breathing has two main benefits for our body, it fuels us with energy from the oxygen and gets rid of waste when we breathe out. When we work harder, we breathe in more air and the more often we do this out body gets better at it. How? Our lung capacity increases so we can take in more air in each breath. This is why asthma sufferers can see improvements in their condition with regular cardiovascular exercise.

With all this extra breathing our heart steps up a gear and works harder to pump the oxygen around the body. Like any muscle in the body, it becomes stronger when you work it. This is why many people who have high blood pressure see it come down or people with heart conditions see improvements from doing cardiovascular activity.

We all remember going to our first fitness class in a while and seeing that beetroot face in the mirror, stopping to tie that imaginary shoe lace so we can catch our breath and wishing it was over but the clock only saying we were half way through. After a few weeks, you are jumping around like a conditioned athlete for the full 60 minutes, sucking in air like a vacuum cleaner and walking out with mildly pink cheeks. You know you are getting fitter and are now looking for the next challenge to get you out of the comfort zone. The other stuff, such toned muscles, a slimmer body and feeling awesome are the icing on the cake. Anything that gets you breathing deeper, your heart pumping and your body sweating is cardiovascular exercise ? walking up a hill, playing tennis, cycling, swimming, kick-boxing or aerobic-style classes.

So, you have no excuses over the festive season. Getting cardiovascular exercise in for 20 minutes at least three times a week means you will have a happy, healthy Christmas…..and the rest of your life.

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