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The Connection between Cardio and Cardiovascular Health

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    The Connection between Cardio and Cardiovascular Health

    In short, what is the mechanism in which cardio activity improves heart health?

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    Uh, it stresses your system so it has to become stronger and adapt, just like any other system in your body?
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    It makes your heart work harder/get stronger/not have to work as hard at that level in the future?
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    See, I worry that perhaps there are only a finite number of beats that your heart is capable of producing.

    I don't want to waste any on a freaking treadmill!
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    Isn't it true that for areas where hard to lose fat deposits, increased blood flow that can mostly only come from cardio exercise is a benefit?
    So cardiovascular health not only includes healthy heart function but better blood flow to areas of the body where it is minimal. I'm wondering if this has any effect on fat deposit distribution in a bulking situation?
    Am I making sense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rahaas View Post
    Isn't it true that for areas where hard to lose fat deposits, increased blood flow that can mostly only come from cardio exercise is a benefit?
    So cardiovascular health not only includes healthy heart function but better blood flow to areas of the body where it is minimal. I'm wondering if this has any effect on fat deposit distribution in a bulking situation?
    Am I making sense?
    Certainly.

    Catecholamines are released during cardiovascular activity and basically during any situation that stresses your body (think: you encounter a lion in between yourself and your car and you need to get ready to run away), and those hormones bind to adrenoreceptors.

    Your body has two major receptors, alpha and beta receptors. There are 3-4 betas and 2 alphas. The pertinent ones are the alpha-2 and beta-2 receptors. The beta-2 receptors are the ones that, in short, signal for fat mobilization. However, the alpha-2 receptors increase cAMP levels which decrease breakdown.

    Men have more alpha-2 receptors in their belly area, whereas women have more in their thigh area. Conversely, men have more beta-2 receptors in their thigh areas, and women have more beta-2 receptors in their belly area.

    When you are stressed, you release catecholamines. When you release catecholamines, they ultimately bind to both receptors, and the density of those receptors per area basically define where fat gets mobilized or not.

    This explains for why the EC stacks as well as stronger CNS drugs like phendimetrazine work so well to help mobilize fat so that they can be used more readily.

    However, you don't get a lot of blood flow, relative to other parts of your body, to those areas. Therefore, they tend to mobilize fat slower than in other areas of your body. Notice how your upper body gets leaner before you see your abs?

    By doing cardio, you get an increase in blood volume to those areas and in turn, increase in exposure to catecholamines.


    In regards to how this all works during bulking: I think the caloric surplus would trump all of this, but that's just conjecture based on logic. I'm sure someone can give a better answer on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    See, I worry that perhaps there are only a finite number of beats that your heart is capable of producing.

    I don't want to waste any on a freaking treadmill!
    Nice thought, but there is some misguided logic here.

    First of all, the body is not a machine. As we all know, a cell adapts to the demand placed on it such that the next time a stimulus of the same intensity or less is placed on the tissue it is easier for the cell to deal with.

    Second, there are several mechanisms that actually contribute to this higher functioning of the cardiovascular system. These include the following:

    A lower resting and submaximal work heart rate. Yeah, your heart rate is elevated for the 30-60 minutes each time you do cardio, but your resting heart rate is substantially lower for the remaining 23-23.5 hours of every day. So, in the long run, your heart actually beats fewer times over one's life time.

    An improvement in the contractility of the heart. It fills with more blood (Increased end diastolic volume), and in response, something called the Franklin-Starling mechanism allows for a greater, more forceful, contraction. This is analogous to the myotatic stretch reflex in skeletal muscle; basically, increased stretch of the cardiac walls means a stronger contraction. The end result is something called a greater stroke volume, which is a fancy way of saying the heart pumps more blood per beat. This is one of the reasons for a decreased heart rate. More blood per beats means fewer beats necessary to supply the same amount of blood throughout the system.

    Another adaptation that contributes to this phenomenon is hypertrophy of the heart. Once thought to be a bad thing in all cases, it is now widely accepted that some hypertrophy is good. Excessive hypertrophy, such as that caused by chronic hypertension, is detrimental to one's health. Resistance training does this to some extent too, but not to the same level as cardiovascular exercise. Furthermore, cardiovascular exercise increases the thickness of the heart walls AND increases the size of the left ventricle cavity itself, whereas resistance training only succeeds in the former, and not quite as much.

    Yet another adaptation, which I don't fully understand myself, reduces blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. This means that the amount of work the heart has to do all the time is substantially reduced. Again, resistance training can also have this effect, but not the same way that cardiovascular exercise does. Some of it has to do with the fact that your heart rate is lower, which does contribute to your blood pressure status.

    Furthermore, there are adaptations outside the cardiovascular system, in the skeletal muscle cells, that contribute to improve functionality. A big one is improved efficiency of the cellular uptake of oxygen. Your body is actually better at utilizing a greater percentage of the oxygen from the blood cells delivering it. Once again, this reduces the need to pump as much blood throughout the system, further reducing demands on the cardiovascular system. The respiratory system also adapts in such a way that more oxygen diffuses from the air in the lungs into the system via the alveoli in the lungs.

    There are also other health benefits, like an improved blood lipid profile. This has something to do with the fact that your body becomes more efficient at using fat as an energy source such that triglyceride levels are lower. As well, higher activity levels are the best way to improve HDL cholesterol (AKA the good cholesterol).

    I also would like to ask what makes you think the heart has a limited number of beats before it stops? Most of the time when people die from something related to the cardiovascular system, their heart doesn't just stop beating because it's worn out...
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    Quote Originally Posted by CowPimp View Post
    Another adaptation that contributes to this phenomenon is hypertrophy of the heart. Once thought to be a bad thing in all cases, it is now widely accepted that some hypertrophy is good. Excessive hypertrophy, such as that caused by chronic hypertension, is detrimental to one's health. Resistance training does this to some extent too, but not to the same level as cardiovascular exercise. Furthermore, cardiovascular exercise increases the thickness of the heart walls AND increases the size of the left ventricle cavity itself,
    The bolded statement was specifically the issue that I was going to bring up.

    We've been doing cardiovascular for years in order achieve the various outcomes (everything that you've mentioned outside of the quoted text) associated with repeated cardiovascular activity.

    However, it seems that repeated cardiovascular activity would essentially bring upon hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the related problems. Is it that case that cardiovascular activity simply does not thicken the heart that much? It seems that a continual thickening is the only way that the heart can adapt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m11 View Post
    The bolded statement was specifically the issue that I was going to bring up.

    We've been doing cardiovascular for years in order achieve the various outcomes (everything that you've mentioned outside of the quoted text) associated with repeated cardiovascular activity.

    However, it seems that repeated cardiovascular activity would essentially bring upon hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the related problems. Is it that case that cardiovascular activity simply does not thicken the heart that much? It seems that a continual thickening is the only way that the heart can adapt.
    Like I mentioned, there are a ton of other adaptations that take place. Hypertrophy of the ventricular walls isn't the only one, and that is only bad at a certain level. Again, the hypertrophy that you achieve with regular vigorous endurance exercise training is not enough to have negative effects on one's health; it is quite the opposite in fact. The issue that you bring up occurs with chronic hypertension, such that the heart is CONSTANTLY under additional load, not for intermittent periods.


    Quote Originally Posted by Built
    CowPimp - it was a joke.
    Sorry to jump to conclusions, but there are a lot of lifters who think of cardio like they think of an STD, and it's kind of silly. The only reason I went on a tangent like that was because I felt like it addressed the original post anyway.
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