Cardiovascular Health and Fitness

The cardiovascular system, also considered the circulatory system, is defined by the Online Medical Dictionary as the heart and the blood vessels by which blood is pumped and circulated throughout the entire body. It should be noted that this definition provides a simplistic overview of just what exactly the cardiovascular system consists of.

More specifically, the cardiovascular system is responsible for delivering nutrients and other essential materials, namely oxygen, to the cells in your body. It is also responsible for removing waste materials from the body, primarily carbon dioxide.

Good cardiovascular health is one of the seven key fitness elements that is oftentimes overlooked by the significant number of individuals. In fact, this is probably one of the leading causes as to why complications of the cardiovascular system account for the highest percentage of death in the Unites States according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Improving your cardiovascular health and fitness can lead to a significant improvement in your overall quality and length of life. This section of our website is designed to provide tips and techniques, information, approaches, and exercise routines that are designed to facilitate a healthy cardiovascular system.

By regularly exercising your cardiovascular system you will undoubtedly achieve an improved level of fitness, endurance, and mental well being. In addition, you will also improve your overall immune system which will allow you to ward off many of the debilitating diseases that afflict millions of individuals.

How the Cardiovascular System Works

There are three primary components associated with the cardiovascular system: the heart, the blood, and the blood vessels. Human beings, along with most other vertebrates, have a closed cardiovascular system. Stated more specifically, the blood never leaves the blood vessels and arteries, and is continually recycled.

There are three main forms of circulation that take place throughout the cardiovascular system: pulmonary circulation, coronary circulation, and systemic circulation. Pulmonary circulation (the lungs) denotes the path that blood takes through the lungs in which the blood cells are infused with oxygen. Coronary circulation (the heart) refers to the movement of blood through the tissues of the heart. The systemic circulation (the rest of the body) denotes the path that blood takes throughout the body to provide the required nutrients and oxygen to all of the cells within your body. Blood also travels through portions of the digestive system where it obtains additional nutrients and minerals to support cellular activity.

The blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries) are responsible for the delivery of the oxygen and nutrients to the various tissues of the body . Oxygen-rich blood enters the blood vessels through the heart's main artery, the aorta. The contraction of the heart's left ventricle forces the blood into the aorta which then branches into several smaller arteries and thereafter, is distributed throughout the entire body.

The inside layer of an artery is very smooth, allowing the blood to flow easily and quickly, while the outside layer of an artery is very strong, thus, allowing the blood to flow forcefully. The oxygen-rich blood then enters the capillaries where the oxygen and nutrients are released. The waste bi-products are collected and the waste-rich blood flows into the veins in order to circulate back to the heart where pulmonary circulation will allow the exchange of gases in the lungs.

During the process of systemic circulation, blood passes through the kidneys. This phase of systemic circulation is defined as renal circulation. During the renal circulation phase, the kidneys are responsible for filtering much of the waste and bi-products from the blood. In addition, blood also passes through the small intestines during systemic circulation. This phase is known as portal circulation. During this phase, portal circulation, the blood that is transferred from the small intestine collects in the portal vein which passes through the liver.

 
Did You Know?

In order for the human body to adequately supply the necessary nutrients, oxygen, and disposal of waste by-products for the entire body, literally hundreds of miles of blood vessels must exist. For instance, the average child has approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels while a typical adult has over 100,000 miles of blood vessels.

The liver is responsible for filtering sugars from the blood and storing them for later use. The average human body contains roughly six quarts of blood with obvious variations due to overall body size. This blood is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets.

Along with providing the cells of the human body with oxygen and nutrients, the cardiovascular system is also responsible for producing homeostasis, namely by helping to maintain temperature and pH levels. The existence of white blood cells also makes the cardiovascular system a key player in fighting infection and disease. By understanding the primary functions that the cardiovascular system is responsible for, it becomes readily apparent why it is so vitally important to focus on good cardiovascular health.

Common Cardiovascular Terminology

In order for each individual to get the most from this section of our website, it is a good idea to become familiar with some of the terminology that is commonly used when referencing the cardiovascular system. This will assist you to better comprehend and utilize the information being presented.

There is a certain path that blood takes through the blood vessels. After leaving the heart the blood first travels through the arteries, then into the capillaries, and finally into the veins. Furthermore, in terms of diameter, the arteries are the largest of the blood vessels and the capillaries are the smallest of the blood vessels. The capillaries are where blood obtains most of its nutrients, metabolic waste, and gases.

Blood pressure denotes the amount of force that is applied to the inner walls of the blood vessels. Blood acts in accordance to pressure gradients, or naturally moves, from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. A pulse is referred to as the rhythmic expansion of the arteries that is caused by the ejection of blood from the heart. The aorta is the main artery from which all others originate.

Our website is designed to provide you with a comprehensive breadth of information that defines and describes all aspects of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. This includes proper exercise habits along with tips on how to modify your diet to promote even greater cardiovascular fitness.

This being said, there are also a number of different mental behavioral adjustments and modifications that can be utilized and made to assist in promoting good cardiovascular health and fitness. This includes items such as reducing stress. To this end, the cardiovascular system is one of the most important systems found in the human body and maintaining and strengthening it will produce an abundance of beneficial health effects.

Our hope at Fitness Health 101 is that you will visit this section of our website often to become more knowledgeable and informed about the importance of the human cardiovascular system and utilize this information to improve your overall cardiovascular health and fitness.