When some people hear the word cardio, they get excited. For others, a feeling of dread takes over. We often think that cardio exercise is all about running for long periods of time until your body is exhausted. We even associate it with pain and discomfort. However, we know it’s good for us!
You might be surprised to hear that cardio is actually for all ages and fitness levels. It is all about increasing your heart rate and doing short bursts of activity at high intensities. If you struggle to add cardio to your fitness goals, start by rethinking what that means!
Cardio is Part of the Equation
You need two forms of exercise:
- Cardio (anaerobic exercise) – heart health
- Aerobic exercise – burns more fat and can be done longer
Your heart is a muscle, just like any muscle in your body. You need to use it regularly. You also need to burn fat for fuel. That’s why exercise of all kinds is important. This includes activities like walking, running, biking, weight-lifting, yoga, swimming, sit-ups and using an elliptical.
Cardio Boosts Your Metabolism
Your body gets fuel from fat and carbs. You naturally have more fat stores than carb stores, which are found everywhere. However, you can burn more fat by exercising at a moderately high heart rate for longer periods of time. But don’t be fooled – this doesn’t mean you have to run for an hour every day. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of cardio each week, roughly 20 minutes per day.
To do this, you can vary your exercise routine and gradually increase duration, intensity and frequency. Even if you can’t do much cardio or any exercise, all movement really does count!
Benefits of Cardio Exercise
Cardio has many benefits beyond weight-loss:
- Increased: Heart health; lung capacity; sleep quality; mental clarity; wellbeing
- Decreased: body fat; blood pressure; stress levels; risk for heart disease
It is also very versatile. If you don’t like running or walking on a treadmill, try taking a hike in a nearby park or swimming laps in your backyard pool. You can even do jumping jacks, dancing or sports.
Make it Fit Your Lifestyle
If you struggle to add cardio to your exercise plan, try thinking more simple. Doing different activities will keep things interesting. Also, don’t be afraid to try something new. Do you walk often? Try a spin class. Do you swim often? Try a friendly game of tennis with a friend.
Don’t feel bad about modifying your exercise. Do what is in your ability to stay safe and be able to progress. You don’t need any special equipment to do cardio either. Some days it can be as simple as taking the stairs to work, parking farther away, chasing your kids around the house or dancing to your favorite upbeat music while you clean.
For more tips on cardio exercise, please CLICK HERE.