The American Heart Association tells us that we need at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of heart-pumping activity per week. They also say that only about 20% of adults and teenagers actually are doing this.

This post will cover my lifelong experience with cardiovascular exercise, which has constantly changed.

It is well known by most of us that there is a connection between physical activity and overall health, disease prevention and quality of life.

From as early as I can remember – as a child through high school – I played schoolyard football and baseball. My basketball was more organized and entailed lots of practice time and lengthy game schedules. I was not interested in cardiovascular benefits or even knowledgeable. I was only having fun.

I began playing tennis in high school, only because basketball season was over and I needed something to do. I began to play constantly. In college, I was very lucky to have an outstanding tennis coach who wanted to help me develop a better game. We practiced daily and played a full schedule of matches. I played singles and doubles, but much preferred singles. Tennis may not be considered a cardiovascular sport (because of the brief rests after odd games) but it had the same effect as far as I could see.

In the military, I had a desk job and could not find very many tennis players. I gained some weight. Afterwards, I played as many tennis tournaments as I could, but still gained weight. My carefree childhood days were over and family and job issues dominated.

In my 60s and 70s, I began to become less able to play 3 hour tennis matches, run 3-5 miles or otherwise get the cardio I needed. I wanted to find new ways and means to address that issue.


I heard much about the value of cardio or aerobic activity and began to better understand my past experience – the carefree cardio for fun and then the intentional cardio as an adult.

These are some of the key points:

  • Improved circulation. Cardio can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Better cardio output. Cardio helps our hearts pump more efficiently.
  • Wider arteries. When our hearts pump faster during cardio, more blood is pushed through our arteries and those arteries become wider and more flexible. This can prevent the build up of plaque.
  • Strengthening our hearts. The heart is a muscle and can be made stronger, not unlike our other muscles.
  • Reduced risks of heart disease. Regular cardio can lower the risk of coronary heart disease, sudden heart attacks and other life threatening cardiac events.

  • Improved cholesterol levels. Cardio can raise our good cholesterol (HDL) levels and control triglycerides.
  • Reduced inflammation. Cardio can lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). which is a sign of inflammation and a heart disease risk.


Throughout my years as an amateur athlete, I was also doing resistance workouts as often as I could. This was initially heavy barbell work with fewer reps. As a senior, I am no longer interested in heavy weights and prefer high reps with lighter weights.

I wanted to get back to my high school weight (and did that a few years ago). Cardio was not easy any more. I had lower back pain and bone on bone knees. I could no longer run for 3-5 miles, nor could I even walk far without pain, being over 70. My tennis “career” was over.

My solution was two-fold:

  • I could still go long distances on my treadmill as I held the handlebars, wrapped one of my knees and listened to music.
  • In my resistance workouts, I could get a good cardio benefit by high reps – 25-50. I also tried to limit my rest time between sets to minimal amounts to stop heavy breathing.

One of my favorite exercises is the “woodchop” with a 6 pound medicine ball. I do three versions of this, with reps of 30-50. This is a great core exercise and especially helpful to me since I don’t do crunches or sit-ups because of back pain. The woodchop is shown below.

See my prior post on this” Perfect piece of home fitness equipment”.


Apart from resistance forms (weights, resistance bands and Bullworker tools), I get most of my cardio from two items, both available from Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I may use their links within my posts to provide relevant fitness choices. I may benefit by earning commissions when purchases are made from the links. This is affiliate marketing. For more information, see my upper menu – BECOME AN AFFILIAITE MARKETER – for details.

Each link will show complete details, pictures, prices, reviews and access to other similar links.

Nordic Track treadmill. This is the treadmill I use for my primary cardio. It is tough and has withstood years of constant use. I have placed it in front of a window so that I may see what’s going on outside as I play music and work out.

Medicine ball. This is the small medicine ball I use, though mine is 6 lbs. They come in various poundages and colors. Look around. This has proven to be a much more efficient fitness item than I had imagined. Rhino is a good brand, but so are others.


See my Bullworker link at the side of my website. I use the Steel Bow and the Bow Classic. They are running discounts for a day or two more to celebrate Independence Day.

My long journey from childhood energy expenditure for cardio, through sports participation and now by “intentional cardio” has been eventful. The results have not been linear, mostly trial and error. Lots of adaptation and workarounds.

What has worked best for me is habit formation. When we develop habits, good or bad, over a period of time, they stay with us. Even when motivation lapses. Habits override the occasional desire to be lazy.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below.

Be well!



  1. Hey Richard!

    I can relate to your story, that exercising becomes more difficult as you age. Running had been my go-to form of cardio but has fallen out of favor (foot pain). A couple of years ago, I joined a gym (for the first time) to add resistance training to my workout routine. So, I alternate between cardio and resistance training. 

    Since you don’t play tennis anymore, have you considered racquetball/pickleball?

    • Hi Godwin! Thanks for your input. I also alternate resistance workouts with cardio, though my resistance has a cardio aspect. I have thought about pickleball, but have not yet become involved. Good suggestions!

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