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Should I do cardio? If so, How Often?

April 29, 2019

There's no doubt that physical activity has many health benefits. Making exercise a priority can be a struggle for some people, especially when they are at a loss at how to spend their time. Some might wonder what kind of exercising they should be doing. We hear the term cardio thrown around often but what does it really mean? We're here to tell you what it is and why it's important; how something as simple as walking can be considered cardio when done correctly and why you should be making time for resistance training too!

Why is Cardio Important?

The term cardio is short for cardiovascular. Cardiovascular exercise can be defined as any exercise which increases your heart rate as well as the blood circulation increment. It is the quickest way to burn off excess calories and increase the body's ability to create more energy. The following are just a few of the many benefits of cardiovascular exercise (Verywellfit). 

  • It's the best way to improve your heart health. Your heart is a muscle that needs exercise. Strengthening and maintaining that strength should be just as much of a priority as the rest of the muscles in your body. Failure to do so puts you at a greater risk for adverse health effects. 
  • It increases the rate of body metabolism. Besides increasing your heart rate, it also works towards speeding other body processes. This practice will help you maintain your current weight or lose weight when you compare calories burned versus calories consumed.
  • It's the best way to improve your body's hormonal profile.When you exercise, you release the hormone serotonin, the 'feel good' hormone. This can help decrease feelings of depression and fatigue. You may also feel less hungry due to the release of leptin, a hormone responsible for decreased appetite. 
  • It can improve recovery time. Moderately paced cardio, also known as steady state cardio, will help you build your cardiovascular endurance. While other types of high intensity or interval training cardio are beneficial, they can make it more difficult to get back in the gym sooner. 
  • It can help manage diabetes symptoms.Cardio increase the muscles' ability to utilize glucose. This is especially important for those with diabetes. If they partake in regular cardio, they can attain better control of their blood sugar levels (Clark, S).

The Importance of Resistance Training

Cardio is not the only kind of exercise you should be doing. Resistance (or weight) training should be included in everyone's weekly routine. This type of training builds muscle involving the gradual increase of reps and/or weight for an exercise over time (Simão R, et al). Body weight exercises such as push-ups, wall sits and squats are also considered resistance training and can be modified with weight. There are many different types of equipment that you can use for resistance training including resistance bands, free-weights, kettlebells, medicine balls and machines. It's important to slowly progress to heavier weight to avoid injury. When performing a weighted exercise, choose a weight that allows you to get about 15-20 reps. You've chosen an appropriate weight when you feel a burning sensation in your muscles for the last few reps. There are many benefits to resistance training, but there is one benefit in particular to keep in mind if your goal for doing cardio is to burn calories. A body with more muscle will burn more calories in a resting state. A combination of cardio and resistance training within a workout regimen will give you a greater advantage in terms of calories burned in and outside the gym (Refinery29).

Is Walking Considered Cardio?

If you don't have a gym membership or own any cardio machines, you might be wondering how you can get regular cardio into your routine. Running is common but not a feasible option for those who are overweight or have injuries. Walking costs you nothing and can be performed just about anywhere. However, unlike cardio machines that have buttons to increase intensity, the individual must push themselves to get their heart rate up. Increasing speed and incline can change a leisurely stroll into a vigorous, cardiovascular exercise. There are many phone applications that can be used to track distance or steps. Walking at a pace of 3-4.5 miles per hour is a good range to seek. (Ding, K).

Cardiovascular and resistance training are so important and beneficial to our health. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking, biking or playing sports. Get out there and find something that gets you moving. Try to partake in resistance training at least two times a week and a combination of moderate and intense cardio 3-5 days a week (Bodybuilding), (Tucker, A).

References

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-great-benefits-of-cardiovascular-exercise.html

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/resistance-band-training-benefits

https://www.verywellfit.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cardio-1229553

Clark, S. (July 18, 2018). 5 Great Benefits Of Cardiovascular Exercise.

Ding, K. (June 14, 2016). Why Walking Is Good For You (And a Great Workout).

Simão R, et al. (March 2012). Exercise Order In Resistance Training.

Tucker, A. (January 1, 2019). How Often Should You Work Out? The Perfect Weekly Workout Routine