What is cardio?

Cardio is a form of exercise which increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. You will find that part way through you will start breathing quicker and you’ll be getting your sweat on. When you think of cardio, we mostly think of running. It is probably the most popular form of exercise that comes to mind when someone mentions the word cardio. Whereas in fact, the word cardio relates to your heart so any exercise that helps raise your heart rate will be considered as cardio. 

Why cardio?

When you constantly complete cardio, it helps push your heart and lungs to work and overtime, this makes your heart become stronger. This will then help make your heart stronger, which in turn can lower your blood pressure. If you can commit to regular cardio this will help lower your stress levels, improve your stamina and obviously help keep off extra weight and build stronger muscles. 

Cardio exercises:

  • Walking
  • Jogging/running
  • Rowing
  • Cycling
  • Climbing stairs
  • Skipping
  • HIIT workouts (burpees, squat jumps etc)

Other benefits of cardio:

  1. Helps with your sleep – studies have shown that those who keep to a regular exercise routine can help aid those struggling with sleep problems
  2. Strengthen your immune system – results have shown that cardio and exercise increase specific antibodies in your blood (immunoglobulins). This then strengthens the immune system.
  3. Reduce chronic pain – many sufferers of back pain have stated that low impact exercise (walking or swimming) helps with their endurance and dropping weight. This can in turn further relieve pain.
  4. Drop the weight and keep it off – there have been studies that show exercising for 4 or 5 times a week and aiming to burn 500 calories can significantly help people to lose weight and maintain the loss. 
  5. Helps manage your diabetes – for individuals suffering from diabetes, cardio can help manage your condition. When you exercise, you increase the utilization of glucose in your muscles. This can then result in you having an increased control of your blood sugars and this results in less blood sugar swings. 

How to start:

Start off by setting yourself a realistic goal based on your current fitness level. For example, if you are new to running then it would be unwise to say you are going to run 5km in 20 minutes. A more realistic target would be aiming to complete it in 40 – 45 minutes. Once you achieve your initial goal, aim to hit this a few times before you pick your next target. When you look to improve your target each time, you will begin to improve your overall fitness and health.

So, whether you decide to walk for half an hour, swim 100 laps of your local pool or run for 10 miles, cardio will not only help improve your health but also help improve your mindset.