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Writing a Prescription for the Perfect Cardio Workout

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Heart Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

One of the risk factors for developing cardiovascular or heart disease is physical activity - or rather, the lack thereof. Physical activity is necessary to maintain good cardiovascular health. One of the challenges facing the heart conscious is not just in making time to get enough exercise, but ensuring that you’re also getting the right kind of exercise to maximize your cardiovascular health. With so many workout choices available – cycling, dancing, running, walking, team sports, for example - how do you know that your physical activity of choice is giving you the most benefit for your effort? Wouldn’t it be easier if your doctor could simply take a blood test and then write a "prescription" for a personalized exercise program that would produce results?

While it may sound like something out of science fiction, researchers at the KG Jebsen Centre of Exercise and Medicine believe that in the future it may be possible to prevent or even delay the development of cardiovascular disease through exercise programs based on individual genetic makeup. The KG Jebsen Centre of Exercise and Medicine is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Working with data provided by more than 5,000 Norwegians ranging in age from 13 to 90 years, researchers examined the relationship between overall fitness and cardiovascular risk factors. The data compiled in this study is believed to be the largest data set in the world which is focused specifically on fitness levels.

As a result of the information gathered, researchers discovered that the levels of oxygen uptake, also referred to as VO2max or maximum oxygen consumption, decline in both men and women at a rate of approximately 5 percent every decade. According to NISMAT, the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, VO2max is the oldest and best measure of fitness and overall conditioning, human performance--that is, our capacity for “maximal work output,” and cardiovascular health. In general, the higher the VO2max number, the greater the individual’s capacity is for sustained work output for periods greater than one minute.

As a part of the study, researchers found:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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