There are plenty of good reasons to get off the couch and hit the gym. Some people work out to improve their athletic performance, some want to sculpt the perfectly toned physique, and many others exercise as part of a weight loss plan.

Today, however, I want to provide you with the ultimate reason to exercise, a reason that will get you up and moving even on days when it’s cold and raining outside. The most important muscle in the body that needs some daily exercise is one that you can’t see but it is vital for our survival; your heart!

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active.

Exercising on a regular basis has so many wonderful health benefits. Some of them are easy to see, such as a reduction in body fat, increased muscle mass or improved skin tone. But the most impressive health benefits that are achieved from exercising on a regular basis can’t be seen externally.

The health benefits that can’t be appreciated visually are, in my opinion, the most important. They include improved cardiac function, improved muscular strength, improved joint mobility, and an improved sense of wellbeing. Although you can’t see these benefits in order to appreciate them, the good news is that you can feel them, especially the heart health benefits.

After focusing on a cardio training program for a few weeks, you should start to feel that exercise becomes easier and that everyday living tasks won’t leave you feeling short of breath as easily. Cardiorespiratory exercise (also known as “cardio”) is simply the term used to describe exercise that works your heart and circulatory system. This system has to work all day, every day in order to keep us alive. Cardio training could also be re-named to ‘heart strength training’ because your heart is a muscle (cardiac) and exercise helps to improve your heart’s blood pumping capabilities.

Your heart beats on average 100,000 times a day sending over 2,000 gallons of blood around your body. Every time you increase your heart rate during prolonged cardio exercise your heart has to pump blood at a faster rate. Therefore doing this on a regular basis will result in your heart becoming increasingly efficient at pumping blood. Your heart will then have to work less at rest to sustain your bodily functions, which means you will have a reduced resting heart rate.

If you wish to reap the health related benefits associated with performing regular cardiovascular exercise, you should aim to add it into your schedule on three – five days of each week. Exercises that promote cardiovascular improvement include walking, running, cycling, dancing and swimming or any activity that makes you get out of breath.

Samantha Clayton

Samantha ClaytonOLY, ISSA-CPT – Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness Education

Samantha Clayton serves as the vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife. She is also the Vice Chair of the Fitness Advisory Board. Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. She is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. Clayton has an associate degree in pharmaceutical science and studied chemistry at the University of Wolverhampton. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s in medical nutrition from American Public University and Arizona State University, respectively. As a mother of four, she enjoys cheering for her kids at their sporting activities. Her favorite Herbalife product is Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength.