No one can deny that a good cardio workout is great for the heart and overall health. However, there are other benefits that are not talked about very often. These range from stress reduction to mood-boosting.
What is Cardio?
The exercise known as cardio is a rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate; merely raising your heart rate is not the same as a cardio workout however. You need to increase your heart rate to your target heart rate zone for at least 10 minutes. The target heart rate zone is the point where your body will burn the most fat and calories.
To be considered a workout regiment, doctors recommend you do at least 150 minutes of cardio or about 20 minutes per day. If you are looking to lose weight, boosting your cardio activity to 300 minutes per week, or 40 minutes per day is good.
What are the Benefits of Cardio?
There are many benefits to a good cardio workout. These include:
- Reducing your risk of a heart attack
- Reducing your risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Reducing your chances of getting diabetes and possibly some cancers
- Increasing your lung capacity
- Relieving depression, stress, and anxiety
- Helping you sleep better
- Improving your sex life
- Increasing bone density
Choosing the Right Cardio Exercise
Anything that gets your heart pumping is good cardio; however, finding the right exercises that you will stick with long term, is what’s important.
Walking is an ideal choice for those who are just starting and that don’t want a high impact workout. You can walk around the neighborhood, a mall, or an indoor gym.
If you need to be around other people to help motivate you, gyms are a good choice. There you can use different machines, including:
- Stationary bikes
- Rowing machines
- Stair climbers
- Elliptical trainers
If you have access to a YMCA, pools offer a great cardio workout. There are also exercise classes that you can join and participate in.
If you are more of a homebody, you can purchase home gym equipment, or use a variety of exercise videos and programs. There are also a ton of fitness apps you can buy to help you workout and challenge you to stay on track. You can find some simple cardio workouts here as well.
Keys to Success
Don’t get discouraged if the workout method you choose is hard or challenging. To be most successful, start at a comfortable pace; don’t attempt to run in a marathon if you’ve never run before.
Start by doing 10-20 minutes of cardio a day. If that is even too much, cut it back to 5 minutes. The second week, bump it to 10 minutes. By the end of the month, you should be comfortable completing a 20-30 minute workout.
Another tip is to be sure to hydrate. Nothing will make you quit working out fast then getting dehydrated and ill.
Also, use caution. More people stop their exercise regiment due to injury than anything else. Twisting an ankle, straining your back, or pulling a muscle can all be a game changer when it comes to exercise.
If time is an issue, cardio doesn’t have to be completed in one solid chunk. Add small bursts of cardio throughout your day.
Run or walk up a couple of flights of stairs at work, instead of using the elevator. Another option is to park far away from the entrance of the store and speed walk to the door. Either of these options will help to incorporate cardio into your day.