What is cardio?
Physically fit people swear by it. Influencers can’t seem to stop posting about it. Doctors insist on doing it every day. But what exactly is it? To make things really simple: cardio is a physical activity that increases the heart rate while they are being performed in short intervals of high intensity, or longer intervals of moderate intensity.
Over time, these exercises strengthen the heart muscle by training it to supply more oxygen to the vessels during these periods of rigorous exercise. Cardio has been scientifically proven as a way to lose excess fat, increase muscle mass and improve endurance.
Getting started: How to decide which exercise is the one for you? (include questions instead of long paras)
Depending on your current fitness status and preference for outdoor/indoor activity, there is a plethora of interesting cardio activity options to select from.
Fitness Level: When it comes to choosing the right exercise, consider where you are in your physical fitness spectrum. If you are an absolute beginner, it would be wise to start with simple exercises such as speed walking or jogging. Even HITT is a viable option since it requires little time and no equipment. If you are on a slightly advanced level, look into options such as swimming or your nearest Crossfit center.
Read More about: 30-Day Home Workout Plan To Lose Weight.
In case you have injuries and are looking into low-impact or even no-impact exercises, opt for water sports or cycling.
Time: If you are a professional with little time on your hands, there are a number of cardio activities to get your heart rate up: HITT, Running and dancing. Yes, even an impromptu dance breakout counts!
Preference: If you are someone that wants to be in the great outdoors while you get your regular workout in, consider options such as rowing and kayaking. But if you are someone that just wants to get a quick sweat in, without the hassle of gathering equipment or going outside, the treadmill is a great option too!
With that being said, here is our cumulative list of the most effective exercises for all beginners in fitness.
Although this isn’t technically a high-intensity workout, it is crucial to ensure that the exercises that follow do not cause sore muscles or early burnout. Make sure to stretch before you start your workout and after you finish. The stretching you do prior to the workout will help loosen and prepare your muscles and the post-workout stretch will help cool you down and relax.
Whether you run around the block or on the treadmill, jogging and running are excellent ways to get your heart racing. Running is a wonderful high-intensity workout that burns excess kajouls and builds stronger bones over time as it is a weight-bearing exercise. If you are new to the running scene, try jogging or even brisk walking. Both are moderately intense exercises that create the perfect segway into higher-intensity running or HITT workouts.
An internet favorite, this version of cardio is physically demanding and makes you burn fat like never before. In its carefully curated combination of exercises, such as squatting, this form of cardio improves body composition, i.e lean body mass. Within this list of exercises, Crossfit requires the most commitment (and membership) as it takes several months for the body to build endurance for the exercises it performs. It is highly efficient (besides HITT) for professionals or people with little time on their hands.
On our list of cardio that involve the great outdoors, biking is an enjoyable light to moderate-intensity option. It trains the glutes and tones the calf muscles. Besides improving balance and joint mobility, it allows you to enjoy moving around the neighborhood or even as your daily commute. If you prefer an indoor version, spin cycling classes are an available option in many cities now.
A regularly overlooked aspect of fitness, yet the most crucial is nutrition. As the common fitness notion goes: “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”, it is important to maintain (or improve) your relationship with food.
Unlearning the classification of certain food groups as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ is a good start. But try to treat yourself once in awhile, while focusing on incorporating all food groups into your everyday meals. Balance is key. If you struggle with a bad diet, try to incorporate more greens and healthy fats into your diet gradually, instead of omitting entire food groups such as carbohydrates.
Benefits (turn into bullet points)
By now we have deduced how important cardio is for the body, but what does it really help do? Here is a quick list of only some of the numerous benefits of regular cardio.
Endurance. The heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, the more it is trained and used, the stronger and more enduring it gets.
Mental health. Cardio helps improve and regulate sleep which in turn helps the body and mind feel energized. Short bursts of intense activity help release endorphins, aka the happy hormone, that greatly improve the mood. Who knew a grueling session of sweaty activity could make you happy?
Read More about: Benefits of Physical and Mental Health
We hope that the information in this article made you want to take up an exercise! But before we close this discussion, there are a few important key points to always remember:
Always maintain a holistic food approach (including all food categories). Don’t cut out any major food groups. Yes, you can even have cheat days.
Start slow.Try to slowly incorporate increasing levels of intensity over time and gradually. Always include rest days for your body to recover.
Do not push your body beyond its endurance in one session. It can give way to injuries or burn outs. If at any point, performing an exercise causes intense pain or physical injury, stop the exercise immediately and seek medical help.
Enjoy yourself! If there’s anything we would want you to take away from this article, it is this point. You should be able to enjoy the process of maximizing your body’s physical potential and reap its benefits.