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Cardiovascular endurance exercise helps strengthen your heart so that it is able to transport oxygen to your organs and muscles. The heart is the most important muscle in the human body. With proper diet and regular exercise, cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke can be minimized.

A person’s heart health is a good indicator of their overall health. But are our children as healthy as their parents were at the same age? A recent study presented to the American Heart Association concluded that children today cannot run as fast or as far as their parents did at the same age. Running, in addition to improving our cardiovascular fitness, strengthens our muscles, bones and joints. Declining cardiovascular endurance may lead to significant health consequences as these children grow into adults.

The study analyzed 50 studies on running fitness between 1964 and 2010, measuring over 25 million children in 28 countries. Researchers concluded that children are on average 90 seconds slower in the mile, and that their cardiovascular fitness has decreased by 15% over that time.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children and youth should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. If the habit of exercise is formed early, it can carry onto adulthood. In order to make it a habit, we should encourage our children and youth to:

  • Limit screen time from the TV and computer
  • Walk the dog or walk to school
  • Ride the bike, skateboard or jog instead of getting a ride
  • Get involved with after school activities
  • Try a competitive sport (e.g., running, swimming, cross country skiing)

To improve your cardiovascular endurance, try activities that elevate the heart rate for a sustain length of time such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or rowing. When starting such activities, start out slow then gradually increase the intensity over time.

In addition, cardiovascular exercise can help to enhance mental health, assist with weight control, and help prevent many diseases. When your heart is fit, it becomes efficient which not only supports you in carrying out daily chores without difficulty, but enables you to enjoy a healthier and happier quality of life.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Cardiovascular Responses in Endurance-Trained Children. Pediatric Exercise Science. May 2003;15(2):126.
2. Drenowatz C, Wartha O, Klenk J, Brandstetter S, Wabitsch M, Steinacker J. Differences in Health Behavior, Physical Fitness, and Cardiovascular Risk in Early, Average, and Late Mature Children. Pediatric Exercise Science. February 2013;25(1):69-83.
3. Is There a Scientific Rationale Supporting the Value of Exercise for the Present and Future Cardiovascular Health of Children? The Pro Argument. Pediatric Exercise Science. November 1996;8(4):294-302.
4. Kelly I, Phillips M, Revels M, Ujamaa D. Contribution of the School Environment to Physical Fitness in Children and Youth. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. May 2010;7(3):333-342.
6. MARTINS C, SILVA F, GAYA A, AIRES L, RIBEIRO J, MOTA J. Cardiorespiratory fitness, fatness, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in children and adolescents from Porto. European Journal Of Sport Science. March 2010;10(2):121-127.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.