When it comes to getting in shape and losing weight, cardiovascular exercise is necessary to help you achieve your goals.
Sure, you can shed some pounds by just eating nutritiously, but if you want true health, then you need to get physically active.
Besides, when you perform cardio exercise, you kick your weight loss into overdrive and reach your final goal much quicker.
How’s that for a good reason?
Cardiovascular exercise is any aerobic exercise that improves your cardiovascular system.
Basically, it gets your heart pumping harder and your lungs working harder which gives your body more oxygen and it becomes more efficient at removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
Cardio activities include things like:
A lot of sports also help improve cardio functioning. So, if you play basketball, football, hockey or softball, for instance, you are getting some great exercise for you heart at the same time you’re making that winning point for your team.
There’s also some cardio benefit to certain daily activities that people don’t necessarily think of as health and fitness related.
For example, if you garden and landscape at a decent pace, you’re burning a lot of calories. While it may not be at the same rate as taking a run, you’re still doing your heart good, nonetheless.
Benefits of Cardio Exercise
Cardio has many physiological health benefits (good things for your body).
According to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, people who participate in regular physical activity have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, have higher “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol.
In addition, if you make it a priority to work up a sweat, according to the Mayo Clinic, you reduce your risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
If you can do something as simple as moving a little more each day, you can save yourself the pain, aggravation and expense of a health condition down the road that could have possibly been prevented.
In addition to benefiting your body, cardio exercise is good for you mentally as well. It helps you deal with stress more effectively and improves your mood. There’s nothing like a good aerobic workout to adjust your attitude!
Not that all of these reasons aren’t great in and of themselves, but there’s also the one major reason that most people make cardio a priority: weight loss.
When you challenge your body through aerobic activity, your metabolism increases and you burn more calories than when you’re at rest. Essentially, it turns you into a fat burning machine!
Before you decide to engage in any cardiovascular program, it’s always advisable that you get your doctor’s approval – even if you are otherwise healthy.
Safety should always be your first priority and who better to give you the thumbs up than someone who looks after your health on a continual basis?
Also, prior to beginning, you may want to take note of your measurements so that you can follow your progress.
Don’t just take your weight either.
Although ultimately you may be trying to get that to go down, it’s not always the best indicator because it won’t account for your muscle gains in addition to your fat loss.
Grab a tape measure and note the size of your body using these key locations:
- Waist (2 inches above your navel)
- Hips (at the widest point)
- Upper Thigh
Take your measurements every four to six weeks and you’ll see your body reducing in size. It’s a great motivator when you can actually see the progress in the numbers!
Creating an Effective Cardio Program
Most health experts recommend that you get 30-60 minutes of cardio most days of the week.
If this seems like a lot compared to where you are right now, then start out slow. Aim for five to ten minutes daily. Once you’re comfortable with that amount, you can always go up from there.
The key to effectively working your body through aerobic activity is to make sure that you’re working out hard enough but not to the point where you risk injury.
You can purchase a wrist heart monitor heart monitors or any similar device, or you can simply do the talk test.
- If you can sing when you’re in the middle of a workout, you’re probably not working your body hard enough.
- However, if you can barely get one or two words out at a time before losing your breath, you need to cut back.
Aim for a pace that allows you to say one to two sentences at a time.
There’s a lot of controversy over whether you should work out in the morning or at night, on an empty stomach or after a snack. W
hile there’s supporters and opponents for both sides, one answer is appropriate: do whatever you’re willing to do on a consistent basis. It doesn’t matter what you should do if you aren’t going to stick with it.
Set up a system that works for your particular lifestyle.
- If you’re a morning person or prefer to “get it out of the way”, then do it in the morning.
- However, if you’re a night owl, then you may want to schedule your activity for later in the day. But try not to work out within three hours of bed time though as you may find it difficult to sleep when your body is still amped up from being active.
Regular cardiovascular exercise is good for you all the way around, from your body to your mind. It will keep you as healthy as you can possibly be and you’ll see improvements in your mood and attitude.
Don’t look at it as something you have to do but, instead, as something you get to do. If tomorrow you lost all use of your limbs, you’ll wish you had today back to get out and walk, run and bicycle your way to health, so don’t take advantage of the privilege.
Is it difficult to fit in exercise when you’re already super busy?
But isn’t it more difficult to be sick and unhealthy?
Get out there and get active.
Your health and wellness depend on it!