Cardio strengthens the heart and lungs, increases endurance and burns calories, which helps you lose weight. Those who prefer strength training can neglect it – with complaints that it is boring and time-consuming – but a fitness program should always include cardio.
What is Cardio?
Cardiovascular exercise, cardio for short, involves movement that gets your heart rate up to improve oxygen consumption by the body. These activities use large muscle groups and can be done continuously for a period of time. Some examples include walking, jogging, cycling, and Zumba group exercise class.
Cardio keeps your body moving. Weight lifting, unless done in a circuit style fashion, isn’t considered aerobic cardio exercise since you are not moving continuously, but instead part of the anaerobic energy system.
What Are The Benefits of Cardio?
In short, cardio can help reduce the risk of:
- Premature death
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Overweight and obesity
That is a very impressive list of benefits, but let’s dig into a few with more detail.
Improved Heart Health:
Feeling winded from doing simple activities such as walking up a flight of stairs? Your heart is a muscle, and just like any other, it needs to be worked. Getting your heart pumping faster on a regular basis will improve its condition. During cardiovascular exercise your heart works harder and pumps blood around your body at a faster rate, so your heart becomes increasingly efficient. This can make your everyday activities seem easier over time.
Management of Type 2 Diabetes:
Not only can it prevent or delay type 2 diabetes from developing, cardio helps type 2 diabetics manage their condition by increasing the muscle’s ability to utilize glucose and improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The Canadian Diabetes Association says that exercise can be as powerful as glucose-lowering medication.
Makes You Smarter:
Thirty minutes of cardio pumps extra blood to the brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its maximum efficiency.
A recent study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that people who exercised during their workday were 23% more productive on those days than the days they were sedentary, and 72% of the participants did cardio workouts.
Engaging in a regular exercise routine is equally important when it comes to shedding the pounds and improving overall health. When it comes to losing weight it is all about calories in versus calories out. Engaging in cardiovascular exercise causes your body to burn more calories than a day at rest.
How Often Should You Do Cardio?
According to the Participaction Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, to achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Working at a moderate intensity means you’re working, but still able to talk, while vigorous means it is getting difficult to hold a conversation.