Welcome to the 2nd in my series of demystifying exercise posts. This time I’m focusing on cardio, mostly because people say ‘I’ve eaten a pizza but it’s ok because I’m going for a jog later’. I hate to burst your bubble but it’s worth WAY more than just burning a few calories.
When people talk about ‘cardio’ they basically mean anything that works your cardiovascular system (heart + lungs). You could argue that this includes just about everything that we do on a daily basis but I’m focusing on specific activities that we do to strengthen the cardiovascular system.
I’m also lumping various cardio training systems together for this post, look out for future posts to delve deeper into specific systems (e.g. high intensity interval training (HIIT), low intensity steady state (LISS) etc.)
Here are my top reasons why you should be cardio training if you’re not already:
1) Weight control – Cardio training raises your heart rate significantly from resting which means that you will need to use energy to keep going. Once you have used the readily-available supplies of glucose within the muscles, your body will begin to burn fat throughout the session and for some time afterwards
2) Increased body efficiency – Through consistent cardio training the body adapts to increase blood flow to muscles and remove waste (CO2 & lactic acid) more efficiently meaning that your endurance increases. You know that burning feeling that makes you stop? It will go away with commitment, I promise
3) Better heart health – One of the adaptations from cardio training is increased stroke volume in your heart i.e. your heart can pump more blood around your body with each beat. This can have the effect of lowering your resting heart rate and potentially decreasing your blood pressure, putting less strain on your heart
FYI, there are battle ropes in there somewhere, I’m just making them move faster than the human eye (ok, faster than the shutter on my iPhone camera…)
4) Happy brain – As well as the release of endorphins that any exercise triggers in our brains, there is something about getting out and about and unplugging for a while. Whether you’re running, hiking, swimming, cycling, spinning, dancing or whatever form your cardio training is taking, use the opportunity to unplug from technology, chat with friends or just spend some time with your own thoughts
5) Unclog those arteries – Cardio training can decrease levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the bad cholesterol whilst increasing levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), the good cholesterol. This is important as you age to keep your cholesterol within the healthy range
So what are you waiting for?! Just get out there and raise your heart rate!