What is cardio?
Cardiovascular exercise often referred to, as ‘cardio’ are forms of endurance exercises that strengthen the circulatory system. Whether you like cycling, running, dancing or getting sweaty on the cross trainer, cardiovascular exercise should be getting your heart racing and your blood pumping, encouraging your body to carry nutrients and oxygen to every cell. Cardio- also known as aerobic exercise stimulates your heart rate to work harder than it normally would, thus increasing your breathing. So what it the difference between aerobic and anaerobic? Aerobic exercise refers to using oxygen- this includes physical activity such as cycling, running or dance classes; any kind of movement that gets your heart pumping, resulting in your lungs taking in more oxygen to keep you going. Anaerobic equals the opposite of aerobic… anaerobic mean ‘without oxygen’ and refers to exercises such as weight lifting.
Why should we do cardio?
Cardiovascular exercise comes with many different health benefits. Combined with a healthy diet, moving your body more will equal weight loss. Your body will be burning more calories and regular physical activity will also help to boost your metabolism. In addition to this, it is extremely beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. Your heart is a muscle, and weightlifters in particular need to remember this… If you don’t exercise your heart regularly enough, like any other muscle in your body- it will become weaker.
As mentioned before, cardiovascular movement encourages a stronger circulatory system, promoting the delivery of nutrients to the body’s cells. This is because the heart is able to pump more blood, delivering more nutrients, more efficiently. Cardio is also a way of relieving stress, so your body on a whole will feel calmer and more productive. This is because you release endorphins whilst partaking in physical activity– the hormones that enhance good moods.
Additional benefits of aerobic exercise:
- Reduce visceral fat
- Increases focus
- Promotes brain growth and optimum functioning
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Stronger heart
- Better sleep
- Increased bone density alongside strength training
How often should be we do cardio?
Remember that cardiovascular exercise is any type of physical activity that gets your heart pumping and you heart rate working above the normal range, so you do not necessarily need to jump on to the treadmill every time you go to do a cardio-workout. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the shop instead of driving… all of this counts and is considered cardiovascular exercise. So how often should we be getting our heart rate up? ACSM cardio- fitness guidelines, suggest that an adult in good health should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be met in a number of ways such as: 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity 5 days of the week or 20-40 minutes of a more vigorous intensity 3 days of the week. These recommendations are in addition to your daily activities.
Top cardio tips
- If you are working out to lose weight, cardio is best on an empty stomach- just remember to refuel once you have finished your session!
- Set aside different days or morning/afternoons for cardio and weightlifting
- Work on building your body up to a cardio session it can handle- this way you won’t eat away at your muscle
- Vary what forms of cardiovascular exercise you do. That way it won’t get boring and your body won’t get used to it.
- Always stretch and warm up your muscles before your cardio session.
- Switch up the intensity of your sessions- you can alternate between running, jogging, uphill walking etc.
- You cannot outrun a bad diet!! Make sure you combine your workouts with a healthy and well balanced diet.