The word ‘cardio’ is probably one of the first words you hear when you first start an exercise program. You know that cardio is an essential component of any workout, whether you want to lose weight, get fit, or just be healthier.
It is the ability of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to take in and transport oxygen efficiently to the body. Regular and ongoing cardiovascular or aerobic activity is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy body and quality of life. It strengthens the heart which enables a greater volume of blood to be pumped into each beat.
During aerobic activity, you’re repeatedly moving large muscles in your arms, legs as well as hips. You’ll notice your body’s responses rapidly. You’ll breathe faster in addition to more deeply. This has the result of maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat more quickly, which increases the blood flow to your muscles as well as back to your lungs.
Your small blood vessels, which are called capillaries, will widen in order to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. The widening takes place in order to carry away waste products, for example, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body will go so far as to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers that promote an enhanced sense of well-being.
How much cardio should you do?
Many personal trainers mention that you should be doing 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week in order to reduce health risks. If you would like to lose a substantial amount of weight (more than 5% of your body weight) and/or keep it off, you need to do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. This doesn’t even include strength training. Getting a deeper understanding of cardio exercise may be what you need to get motivated to do it a little more often.
Participating in a cardiovascular conditioning program will help you do:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Increase your HDL cholesterol
- Decrease the total amount of cholesterol in your body
- Decrease body fat because you’re using fat as energy
- Increase the function of your heart and its ability to pump more blood
- Decrease stress reactions and anxiety
- Reduce glucose-stimulated insulin
- Increase oxygen output to the body
- Decrease your resting heart rate
- Increase cardiac output
- Increase aerobic work capacity.
And the fabulous thing about cardio is that you don’t have to exercise for an hour at a high-intensity in order to get the benefits. A 15-minute walk outside can boost your mood and assist with lowering blood pressure.
Don’t feel as if you have to have a lot of time and energy for cardio. Doing a little each day is better than doing nothing at all. With all the benefits laid out for you, it’s time for the next step which covers exactly how to choose your cardio exercise.
Setting up a cardio program
Your primary step in setting up a cardio program is to figure out what kind of activities you’d like to do. The hack is to think about what’s accessible to you, what fits your personality as well as what you’d feel comfortable fitting into your life. If you want to go outdoors, running, cycling or walking are all good choices.
Just about any activity will work, as long as it involves a movement that gets your heart rate into your heart rate zone. Walking is always an excellent choice. It’s something most of us can do on a regular basis and you don’t need fancy equipment.
If you’d prefer to go to the gym, you have access to a lot more options in the form of machines like stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, treadmills, rowing machines, climbers, the pool, and more.
For the home exerciser who want to increase their fitness levels, you can, of course, buy your own treadmill or elliptical trainer, but there are other great options like:
- Exercise videos
- Online exercises and workouts
- Fitness apps
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