Incorporating Essentrics into your fitness regimen not only promotes cardiovascular health but also acts as a protective measure against cardiovascular disease.
By Dr. Emilia Zarco, MD & M.Ed.
What is Cardiorespiratory Health?
Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF), as defined by the American Heart Association, refers to the capacity of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to the muscles during physical activity. Think of it as the efficiency with which your heart, arteries, and veins collaborate to support your body’s energy needs. CRF is also known as cardiorespiratory endurance, cardiovascular fitness, aerobic capacity, or aerobic fitness.
Your Cardiovascular & Respiratory Systems:
The Cardiovascular System: Also known as the circulatory system, consisting of your heart, arteries and veins. The main function of the heart is to pump blood through the body. At rest, your heart typically beats 60-100 times per minute. During exercise, your heart rate increases to deliver more oxygen to your muscles, upwards of 120-160 beats per minute. This oxygen is crucial for the mitochondria in your muscles to produce the energy needed for the activity, helping you continue to do the exercise. Simultaneously, veins transport waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, back to the heart. This intricate dance is the circulatory system at its finest.
The Respiratory System: this system’s primary function is gas exchange – delivering oxygen to the cells and removing carbon dioxide (a cell waste product). Comprising the nasal cavity, trachea, and lungs, the respiratory system ensures a continuous supply of oxygen. At rest, your breathing rate is typically 12-15 breaths per minute. During exercise, your breathing rate rises up to 35-45 breaths to meet the oxygen demand and prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide in the body. This dynamic process is the respiratory system in action.
How Essentrics Improves Cardiorespiratory Health
The more you train your cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems, the more physical activity or exercise you can do. Engaging in Essentrics not only boosts strength and flexibility but also promotes cardiorespiratory health, preventing disease. Here’s how:
1- Foundation for Improved Health: Essentrics provides a foundation for improving your cardiorespiratory health by increasing strength and flexibility. With improved range of motion in both large muscles and smaller muscles (like those between your ribs), your body can support an increased aerobic capacity.
2- Safe and Preventive: The full-body approach of Essentrics prevents injuries through alignment and progression. Exercises follow natural kinetic chains, emphasizing positional techniques to protect joints, while movement sequences progress from smaller-to-bigger, slower-to-faster, and simple-to-complex in their design.
3- Improved Blood Flow: Essentrics stretches more than just your muscles! The flexibility of your arteries improves as well. This dilation reduces heart rate and diastolic blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
4- Body-Weight Training: Essentrics uses your body weight instead of external weights for resistance. This strengthen your muscles, connective tissues and builds lean muscle mass. Strength training also burns more calories, keeps blood sugar in check, improves cholesterol levels and aerobic capacity.
Using Essentrics for Cardiorespiratory Health:
Most Essentrics exercises have you working at a moderate intensity level. But what does moderate intensity mean? The “Talk Test” is a simple and intuitive tool to determine exercise intensity:
– Low intensity: You can sing while performing the movement. You are breathing easily and warming up and maybe sweating lightly.
– Moderate intensity: You can talk but not sing while performing the movement. You are breathing faster and sweating a little more.
– High intensity: You can’t sing or talk. You may be huffing and puffing and sweating a lot.
As you become more fit, the exercises may only feel like a light workout. Adjust the intensity as needed. Follow your Essentrics instructor’s cues to increase resistance through imagery and other techniques. Take bigger steps, lift your knees higher, pull up and out a little more will help increase the intensity. The most important thing: listen to your body. With progressive movements, you can make the most of each exercise.
You can improve your cardiorespiratory health no matter your age! Whether you’re a beginner or a fitness enthusiast, consistency is key. The World Health Organization recommends gradually increasing activity time for maximum health benefits. By incorporating Essentrics into your routine, you can unlock the potential for a healthier and more resilient body.
Emilia Patricia T. Zarco has a Doctor of Medicine degree from West Visayas State University, Philippines with training in Anesthesiology and a Master of Education from the University of the Philippines. She is an Associate Professor of Health Studies and chaired the Department of Health & Sport Sciences at Adelphi University in New York, USA where she conducted research studies on the health benefits and impact of Essentrics. To date, she has published 3 papers: Perceived Benefits of a Guided Exercise Program Among Older Adults, The Impact of a 10-Week Essentrics Program on Strength, Flexibility and Body Composition and Using Essentrics to Improve the Health of Older Adults.