For most people starting a new workout plan, the word “cardio” is one of the first things that they hear. Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is one of the most popular forms of exercise today, especially for those who are new to working out. And most people think it’s because cardio is the best way to lose weight.
But that isn’t necessarily true. Cardio exercise is important, but should be combined with other forms of exercise in order to not only achieve optimal weight loss, but to help strengthen and tone your muscles. Cardio is an important piece of a much bigger workout pie. And it’s going to do so much more for you, than just help you slim down, if you make cardio exercise part of your everyday routine.
If you pay attention to the other health benefits of regular cardio, you may be surprised to find out all its really doing for your body.
What is Cardiovascular Exercise?
Cardio gets its name from of its impact on our cardiovascular system. This is the system in our body that is made up of the heart, capillaries, arteries and veins that deliver oxygen and other important nutrients throughout our body.
Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate. When your heart rate is higher, it means more blood is being pumped from your heart out to your muscles and organs, so they can get the nutrients they need to thrive.
How Much Cardio Should I Be Doing?
We need at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, but more is better. Unfortunately, most people live very sedentary lifestyles and aren’t getting up and moving as much as they should be. Sitting behind a desk all day doesn’t exactly make it easy to stay moving.
However, movement is the key to life. Just look at water as an example. When there is no movement, like with a pond, water can get stagnant, cloudy and unhealthy looking. However, a spring or waterfall that is constantly moving has much cleaner and healthier looking water. You’d be much more likely to drink clear water from a spring than murky water from a pond.
When we aren’t moving, and don’t have blood pumping throughout our system, it has the same effect. It can lead to a number of problems. Our heart needs to work harder than it is when resting to push blood to our hearts, muscles and other important organs like our kidneys. When we move, that blood flows more powerfully. When we sit—things can get stagnant. This is where we start to see issues like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which can all come from a lack of aerobic exercise.
Fortunately, most of us don’t have to worry about lack of blood flow causing health problems—if we are using and moving your body appropriately.
How to Get Cardiovascular Exercise
Most people think of jogging when they think of cardio exercise, but here are so many different to engage in cardiovascular beyond just running and jogging. Walking is a great form of cardio, especially for those just getting started. But you can do sprints, cycling, HIIT workouts, swimming and rowing, among other options. Most team sports are also great forms of cardio exercise.
The key is to get up, to move, and to get that heart rate pumping.
What Else Will Cardio Do For My Body?
By increasing your heart’s ability to distribute oxygen to the large muscles in your body, you are limiting the impact that physical and emotional stress can have on your heart and lungs. This is why with regular cardio exercise, you don’t need to breathe so heavily—since your body is used to oxygen being used efficiently.
When the heart and lungs are at ease, and healthy through proper cardiovascular training there is less stress on the sympathetic nervous system as well. Overall, just 30 minutes of cardio a day can help with:
- Lower cortisol levels (makes fat burning easier)
- Increased endorphins
- Less stress
- Reduced risk of depression
- Increased lung capacity
- Stronger heart
- Better bone density
- Improved sleep
- And more!
You only have one body, and you need to make sure you are using it the way it was designed to be used. Getting that regular cardiovascular exercise is the perfect way to make sure all of your systems are up and running like they should be.
There is no better time than the present to start incorporating cardiovascular exercise in your routine. Challenge yourself to start with 30 minutes per day every day. Of course, make sure you are listening to your body as you start your new cardio exercise program, and feel free to call us for an appointment or consultation if you have any questions or are worried you may have injured yourself. You can book appointments online or contact us at (301) 776-0755 to schedule an appointment today.