Cardiovascular exercises, simply known as cardio, are those exercises which improve our endurance and increase both our heart rate and breathing rate. The idea is to exert ourselves to the point to where we almost get out of breath. In fact, a cardio workout is successful if you cannot say more than 5 or 6 words. If we can talk normally, we’re not working out enough.
Performing cardio raises our cardiorespiratory endurance, so we’re able to burn more calories as we boost our metabolism and strengthen our heart and lungs. If this wasn’t enough, it also reduces stress-hormones levels and, since we release endorphins, it makes us feel happier.
There are several cardio workouts: walking, jogging, aerobics, cycling, running, swimming, rowing, etc. Which is the best? The one you enjoy the most! If you choose an activity that you really enjoy, you’ll feel more motivated and will be more committed.
Benefits of cardio exercises
Doing regular cardio will bring you many health benefits:
- Boost your energy and your endurance.
- Helps you lose weight. A cardio routine makes us burn several calories and it speeds up our metabolism.
- Sheds body fat. Cardio exercises improve our Body Mass Index (BMI) as it reduces the amount of our body fat.
- Helps control blood pressure, since it improves the circulation of blood throughout our body.
- Strengthens our immune system. When our heart rate increases, blood vessels widen and allow a better flow of white blood cells, the agents in charge of fighting against viruses and infections.
- Helps control cholesterol levels. Cardio exercises help lowering “bad” cholesterol and increasing “good” cholesterol”.
- Maintain normal sugar levels, helping thus to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- May prevent some diseases. Cardio may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases, maintain normal cholesterol levels, control high blood pressure and diabetes; it also strengthens our heart and lungs.
Cardio exercise and weight loss
As we have already mentioned, doing cardio helps us burn calories fast, as it boosts our metabolism. Besides, if we accompany our cardio routine with a healthy diet, we’ll have a sustained weight loss and will hardly recover the pounds we’ve already lost.
To lose weight, what is best is to perform a cardio routine 5 times a week, along with a balanced diet. Remember that, the more often you work out, the better results you’ll get in less time; just be careful and don’t overexert your body. Consistency is more important than quantity, so you’ll see more benefits if you exercise 5 times a week for 30 minutes instead of 150 minutes just once a week.
As you improve your physical endurance, you should also increase the cardio intensity. It’s important that you set the challenges for your training, so you can improve and keep motivated. It’s also important that you vary your cardio routines, so you don’t get bored and your body doesn’t get accustomed to the same repeated efforts.