If you’re like most, just hearing the word “cardio” can make you cringe. Despite the importance attached to it, especially as it relates to your health, you just can’t help it. Well, you’re not alone. Even the thought of endlessly running around outside or on a treadmill can make the fittest and healthiest person shake their head in consternation. But, like most things in life that are good for you, you just have to bear it. After all, you need cardio in your life to get healthy and stay healthy. And if you want to lose some weight, well, cardio for weight loss is where it’s at.
What Is Cardio Exercise?
So, what is cardio exercise? Simply put, it’s anything that gets your heart going; its exercise that puts your heart in a target heart rate zone that translates to more fat and calories burned. And as we’ll soon see, cardio is anything and everything from walking, running, swimming, rowing, and even boxing. In this way, cardio exercises are comprised of aerobic activities that get your heart pumping and sweat pouring. It doesn’t matter what muscle groups you’re using either, or whether you’re doing it standing up, sitting down or lying flat in water. As long as your heart is working and heart rate increasing, it’s cardio.
The Many Cardio Exercise Benefits
Despite the ominous beginning to this post, cardio isn’t actually that bad. Like we just covered, cardio exercise is an umbrella term that captures a lot of exercises that all work your heart. Likewise, cardio doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour running in place either, or that you have to do something high intensity that leaves you gasping for air. In other words, just like swimming for an hour until you feel as if you can’t lift your shoulders more than a couple of centimeters is cardio, a quick 15-minute walk around your neighborhood is also cardio.
That being said, while all cardio activities provide many of the same benefits, different forms of cardio do have their own distinct pluses. For example, pretty much all forms of cardio do the following:
- Help you lose weight by burning fat and calories
- Help you sleep better and reduce stress
- Improve your heart health and keep it stronger for longer
- Improve your endurance
- Increase your lung capacity and strengthen the muscles involved in respiration
- Reduce the risks of heart-related illnesses, as well as diabetes and some forms of cancer
With that in mind, some of the differences between low-to-moderate and high intensity cardio exercises is that the former provide less impact on the joints (ideal for those who are obese or otherwise unfit), can be used as a form of active recovery, and burn fact directly. The latter, on the other hand, will increase metabolic rates even more, both during and after training, and will improve fitness by improving endurance and strength.
Cardio Exercise Tips and Workouts
Hopefully your view of cardio is not as negative as it used to be. In fact, you hopefully now realize how important cardio exercise is for your health and are contemplating how to incorporate it into your routines. To that end, I’ve got you covered. Your first step is deciding what to do. Don’t like running? No problem! You can go on walks or swim. Don’t like riding a bike? No worries! You can box or use a rowing machine. The point here is that cardio exercises are incredibly diverse and you should find what you enjoy doing (even moderately) and what’s accessible to you.
You also have to realize that there’s no such thing as a single “best” cardio exercise—what works best for your friend may not be what’s best for you, and vice versa. As long as your heart rate is up, good. Likewise, it’s not what you do, but how much effort you put into it. For example, consider jogging uphill versus downhill. You’ll cover the same distance with both, but jogging uphill will get your heart pumping faster and lead to more weight loss because you expended more energy to do so.
And then there’s a fact known by those who regularly perform cardio exercises: it’s easy to stop doing it. To avoid this happening to you, choose something you can see yourself doing at least three to four days a week, or choose a variety of exercises that will keep everything fresh. You also have to realize that you don’t need to get everything done at once. If you don’t have the time, or feel that it will be too much, feel free to split your workouts throughout your day and week. You can also take the more laborious route to life and do things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving, and so on.
Best Cardio Exercise Workouts
By now you know that there are a lot of ways you can get your heart going with cardio workouts. To make things that much easier for you, take a look at a few of them:
- Walking: Good for beginners or those with injuries or are physically incapacitated, walking is a low impact cardio exercise that builds up toward more intense activities.
- Jogging/Running: Jogging and running are higher intensity workouts that increase your heart and metabolic rate and lead to more weight loss and improved fitness.
- Cycling: Though it uses the same muscles as running, cycling is a lower impact exercise that still gets your heart going and strips fat from your body.
- Swimming: Swimming is a good total body workout that burns a high number of calories. And because you’re in water, thus making it a low-impact exercise, the risks of injury are reduced.
As important as cardio is for you, you have to keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much. Don’t overwork yourself and take yourself out of the game because you tried too much too soon. Instead, moderate yourself and listen to your body. One more thing: don’t forget about your recovery drink! Cardio exercises use up a lot of your body’s stored energy, and you should drink something that replenishes your fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other important nutrients. A good way of getting this in a healthy way is with organic cold-pressed juice that retains most of the vital nutrients in a whole fruit or vegetable. Even better, they’re delicious!
Author Bio: I am Tanya, Graduate from Delhi University and working for More Orgo. I have health and fitness industry experience and I love to share knowledge with people about organic food and fresh cold-pressed juices available in the market. For the most part, I interact with people to know about their lifestyle and how they can stay healthy and fit to live life to the fullest. It’s great to listen to their stories to stay fit and healthy and share my thoughts and knowledge with them.