Cardiovascular and sport-specific exercises

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Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises

asian teen running

​​Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of your heart and lungs to provide oxygen to your muscles. Cardiovascular endurance is your body’s ability to do an activity like swimming or walking for an extended period of time. Fitness and endurance are important for everyone, especially young people with persistent pain.

Cardiovascular exercises build your fitness and endurance, and improve your overall health. For example, regular aerobic activities:

  • improve the health of your heart and blood vessels
  • lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise your ‘good’ cholesterol
  • reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • improve metabolism to help you maintain a healthy weight.

Aerobic exercise helps you to be active and stay active for longer. By building your cardiovascular fitness and endurance, you will be able to take part in the activities you want to do for as long as you want to do them and not be limited by fatigue and tiredness. Aerobic exercise also helps improve your mood and sleep quality.

To improve your cardiovascular fitness, an exercise must be intense enough to raise your heart rate and maintain it for a period of time. It is more important to establish a regular exercise routine that does not flare your pain. Once you are able to exercise regularly for two weeks, check your heart rate during the activity to see if it is higher than your resting heart rate. The longer you sustain an activity, the more you will increase your endurance. Any continuous activity will help. Swimming, water aerobics, brisk walking, skating, dancing and cycling may be good options to try.

Sport-specific exercises

girl playing softball

​​Participating in sports, and other leisure activities, is an important part of life for many people. Sports often include elements of flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and endurance, strength and balance. Most importantly, they are fun!

Sports also help you to have a healthy, active lifestyle, but they do not take the place of specific, therapeutic exercises that your healthcare team has prescribed to you. If it is difficult for you to do certain sports, try to select low-impact sports that are less likely to cause an increase in pain (such as swimming or cycling).

If you want to be better at a certain sport-related skill, such as shooting a hockey puck, you must practise the parts of that movement over and over during practices and games. If you participate in sports, ask your therapist​ and coach to prescribe exercises that help build skills to help your game, while improving your strength, flexibility, fitness and balance.

Last updated: May 2nd 2016