Why is Cardio so important?
Some dread it, some live for it.
No matter how you feel about it, it should never be left out of a quality fitness plan. Cardiovascular exercise, aka 'Cardio' can include any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation. Our job is to help you find a type of cardiovascular activity you will regularly do and maybe enjoy, just a little.
IMPROVES HEART HEALTH
Your heart is a muscle just like any other and one we can't live without!
In order for any muscle to become strong it must be worked. If you don't work it regularly, it will weaken over time and this can cause a variety of negative health effects.
By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis you will keep it in shape and healthy.
If you get winded performing simple daily activities such as walking up the stairs you may be in need of strengthening your heart muscle!
When your heart rate increases, the rate of various other processes in the body increase as well which contribute to your total calorie output every day. Increase the amount and type of moving around you do and you will improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Any kind of cardio will strengthen you heart and there are many to choose from. Not all cardio must be done in the gym either! From those classic machines in the gym and HIIT classes, to running, swimming, or riding your bike outside, I am sure we can find a way for you to get your cardio in without it being a slog!
Regularly working your heart muscle leads to all of you getting stronger which is how you can make a lasting effect on your metabolism! An increased metabolism means an easier time maintaining your weight (or losing weight as the case may be). As your heart gets stronger with consistent effort, you will be able to do more work with less effort. The more work you can do in a given period of time, the more calories you can burn!
IMPROVES HORMONE PROFILE
Cardiovascular exercise also changes the levels of certain hormones in your body considerably! It releases 'feel good' hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. These hormones affect our mood and can help with symptoms of depression and fatigue. It can also help regulate hunger hormones that decrease the appetite.
Not to mention cardiovascular exercise's effects on stress and cortisol! Studies have shown that regular bouts of increased heart rate can significantly help lower stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. If in doubt, sweat it out!
IMPROVES RECOVERY TIME/CAPACITY
Certain types of cardio exercise, usually lower, more moderately paced forms, can decrease your recovery time too. If you have just performed a hard session in the gym, hopping on the treadmill for a walk or light jog will help to remove some of the by-products that were created during the lifting session.
This will help to reduce your DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and help bring more oxygen rich blood to the muscle tissue improving in the repair and rebuilding process. To you, this translates to your being able to get back into the gym quicker and work the muscles again.
Building muscle mass is a combination of an overloading stimulus and sufficient rest to allow the muscle to heal itself. If you skew this balance either direction, either working out too much or providing too much rest in between, you aren't going to get optimal results.
The more frequently you are able to work a muscle though (assuming full recovery has been achieved) the faster you will add additional new muscle. Cardio helps you do this. Just don't take this too far as excess cardio or cardio done at such a high intensity that it places additional strain on the muscles is going to actually hinder recovery rather than aid it.
MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC HEALTH ISSUES
Lastly, for those who have diabetes, high blood pressure or other lifestyle related issues, cardiovascular exercise helps them manage these conditions. By regularly elevating your heart rate within your doctor's recommended guidelines, you will increase your muscles' ability to utilize glucose as well as process other unwanted elements in the blood. This translates into more stable blood sugar for Diabetics, lower blood pressure for those looking to lower it, reduced inflammation for those in chronic pain.
STILL NOT A FAN? START SLOW!
Those are just a few of the benefits that you will see with regular cardiovascular exercise. If you are just getting started, first focus on simply finding an activity that gets you moving and gets your heart rate up. Those are the two key components to what cardio is. Any form of exercise will do, whether it is going for a walk, a bike ride or performing in an organized sport.
The important thing is to keep your body moving. Weight lifting, unless done in a circuit style fashion, would not be considered aerobic cardio exercise since you are not moving continuously. It would be anaerobic and would use a different energy system than that of cardio (the ATP-CP system).