Cardiovascular fitness refers the ability of the heart, lungs and organs to use oxygen to produce energy for muscle movement. Cardiovascular fitness increases with consistent exercise, as the heart becomes more efficient at pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body and the body becomes more efficient at using that oxygenated blood.
Cardiovascular fitness depends on a variety of factors, including age, gender, physical activity, heart health and genetics. For most people, maximum cardiovascular efficiency occurs between the ages of 15 and 30 and decreases with age. Activities that engage multiple muscle groups, such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and skiing, are best for improving cardiovascular fitness.
Good cardiovascular fitness decreases the risk for many conditions and diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.