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In the Spotlight

Why is Cardio Important?

Don’t skip the heart and lungs during your next workout

A Veteran and his partner running outside Different types of exercise can help in different ways. Strength training is perfect for gaining muscles and becoming stronger. At the same time, cardio (sometimes called cardiovascular or aerobic exercises) is great for your heart and lungs. And right now, a strong heart and lungs seem more important than ever.

Cardio exercises can be fun, and you can do them alone or with a partner. The next time you’re working out, include cardio by adding a quick bike ride, or another activity that makes your heart and lungs work harder than they do when you’re resting or walking.

Get your heart pumping

Cardio exercises are great for any age and don’t require special equipment. By using your surroundings within your neighborhood or home, you can quickly get your heart rate going by trying one of these activities:

  • Briskly walking or jogging

  • Swimming

  • Bicycling

  • Stair climbing

  • Dancing

  • Gardening

You can add these activities to the MOVE! Coach app as warm-up exercises or to enhance your current workout routine. Try adding your exercises to the My HealtheVet Activity Journal to keep track of your progress.

Benefits of cardio

When doing this kind of activity, your heart and lungs are doing most of the work. Together, they bring oxygen into the body and deliver it to the muscles being used. This process strengthens the tissues around the lungs and improves circulation, helping them function. A sign that you have reached a good cardio intensity is when you sweat!

Cardio doesn't only make your lungs and heart stronger, it can also help:

Be safe

To avoid injuries, always start slowly when adding or beginning new exercises. Depending on your current health, you may have a different target heart rate. Schedule an appointment or send a Secure Message (sign in required) to your health care team so you can know what your exercise heart rate should be. Once you’ve talked to your health care team, begin exercising and keep track of your heart rate on My HealtheVet.


Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Which cardio exercise are you most likely to try?