It makes you sweat. It makes you breathe heavy. It might even mess up your hair. Love it or hate it, cardio helps you stay fit and healthy.

Whether you relish a heart-pumping run to help “clear your head” or curse every sweat-drenched moment of Spinning class, you can’t avoid cardio if you want the benefits of a well-rounded fitness program.

Cardio exercise is any exercise that raises your heart rate. Face it our bodies were made to move. And we all know that to keep our muscles in shape we need move them. This movement makes them stronger and stronger muscles make for a more efficient and healthy body. Your heart is a muscle. Therefore working it makes it stronger. A stronger cardio-vascular system means more capillaries delivering more oxygen to cells in your muscles. This enables your cells to burn more fat during both exercise and inactivity.

Cardio exercise uses large muscle movement over a sustained period of time keeping your heart rate to at least 50% of its maximum level.

Walking – This is the easiest and safest way to start getting in your cardio.

Elliptical – Minimal impact on the knees and hips but calorie burning is still high.  When you increase the incline you will activate more muscles.

Running –  This one is easy to understand.  Just remember if you train like a distance runner you will look like a distance runner.  If you train like a sprinter you will develop a sprinters body.  Steady running burns calories but sprints take it to the next level.

High Intensity Interval Training – Short intervals at maximum intensity followed by short periods of rest.   Best all around workout that burns fat and calories.

Bike Riding or Cycling – Cycling uses large muscle groups in the legs and helps elevate your heart rate.  This one is great you can do it inside or outside, with your kids, or even over the internet in your own home.

Stair Climber – Uses more muscles than walking.

Jumping Rope –  Cheap, easy and burns tons of calories.  If you remember doing this for hours as a kid you will be surprised at how exhausted you will get now.

Swimming – This is a total body workout as long as you are not just floating – even treading water burns calories. Swimming laps would be best and change up the strokes you use so that you work all different kinds of muscles and the continuous pace works your heart and lungs.

Rowing  – Works both the upper and lower body and is low stress on joints and ligaments.

Circuit Training – When you work out at a high intensity the blood starts to pump a lot harder and that challenges the elasticity of the arterial wall.

If you want to not only work your heart but want to build muscle continue with your exercise routine and add in some weights.

 

Benefits of Cardio Exercise:

Weight Loss – All exercise burns calories.  A deficit caloric intake and your body will burn fat and you will lose weight.

Stronger Heart  – Teaches the heart to work more efficiently.

Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol – As your heart beats faster it increases blood flow.  Blood vessels become more elastic when they are worked and small blood vessels widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles.

Increased Bone Density – Weight bearing aerobic exercise like walking helps to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

Reduces Stress & Depression – When you exercise your body releases endorphins which are natural pain killers.

Better Sleep – Let’s face we sleep better when our body is tired.

Maintain muscle strength into old age. – Strong muscles as we age will keep us independent longer.

More Energy – You will increase your stamina and reduce your fatigue.  OK, you may fell more exhausted when you first start an exercise program, but stick with it and your energy levels will increase.  You will be on your way to a more active lifestyle.

Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease – Being physically active is important in preventing Heart Disease (#1 Killer) and Stroke (#5 Killer).

Strengthens Lungs – When we move our large muscles we breathe faster and more deeply this improves lung function.

Live Longer – Studies show that those who regularly exercise live longer than those who don’t.

Less Likely to Get Sick – Exercise activates your immune system.  Want to avoid a cold?  Don’t pass up on your exercise.