Walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming. These are some examples of cardiovascular exercises. More popularly known as cardio, these exercises bring many benefits that few other practices can match when done correctly.
Want to learn more about it? Read on. Here in this article, we will open everything to you to know about it, from what it is. How long you should do them, frequency, intensity, and the benefits these exercises bring when done correctly. Ready? Let’s start.
What Is It?
Let’s start with the definition first. What exactly is cardio exercise? Sometimes referred to as aerobic (meaning “with oxygen”) exercise. It is a type of exercise that any rhythmic activity that increases the heart rate into the target heart zone.
(Note: Target heart zone is the zone where you burn the most calories and fat)
What makes aerobic exercise different from other types of exercise? Here is the difference: The training depends on the body’s ability to use oxygen during the workout session.
During the exercise, you move large muscles in your body repeatedly. As you do so, you breathe faster and deeper, and your heart rate increases.
How Long Should You Do It?
Let’s talk about duration now. How long should you do the exercise? That depends on what your goal is. For example, if your goal is for your general health, you should do it for a total of 150 minutes per week. This is according to the health authorities’ recommendation.
What if you want to lose weight? In that case, you should do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Sounds like a lot, right?
Here is a great thing about aerobic exercise: you can get the benefits without working out for an hour. That is right. Even short sessions for 10 minutes will count toward your weekly quota.
So, the first item to do is; deciding how many minutes of exercise to do in a week. Then, split the minutes in a way that you can do it consistently.
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Before you ask, if you are just starting out, you do not need to do a total of 150 minutes in your first week. When it comes to cardio for beginners, you want to start small. Break your workout sessions into smaller chunks, like 10 to 15 minutes per session, for example.
If you can do cardio for 30 minutes when you start out, then good for you. If you can not, just break it into chunks. Do not worry. Your body will adapt, and the exercise will be more manageable over time.
Once it gets easier, you can increase your session by 5 minutes. From there, work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes sessions.
Now you know how long you should do the exercise. Here is the following question: How often should you do it? Several factors determine how often you should exercise. For example, fitness level, goals, and schedule.
While we can not give you a definite answer on how often you should exercise, we can assist you in selecting how often you should exercise.
Let’s say that you are just getting started, want to be healthier, do not have plenty of free time, and are not concerned about losing weight. In that case, working out a little bit every day can be beneficial for you.
Suppose you have been working out regularly for years. In that case, you are used to working out at the gym for 60 minutes and having muscle building instead of weight loss. As your goal, 3 to 4 times cardio per week is probably sufficient.
When it comes to frequency, you need to think about intensity as well. If you want to exercise daily, light- or moderate-intensity will be a good option.
Suppose you want to do high-intensity exercise instead. In that case, you should do it as often as you would light- or moderate-intensity exercise. With high-intensity practice, you will need more rest days.
Remember, rest is just as important as exercise. So if you do high-intensity exercise, make sure you have enough rest days between your workout sessions.
Here is a brief guideline to encourage you to decide your workout frequency.
- For general health
Do moderate-intensity cardio 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. Alternatively, you can do high-intensity aerobic exercise for 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week.
- To avoid regaining weight and/or for weight loss
Do moderate-intensity exercise for more than 300 minutes per week.
- To maintain a healthy weight
Do moderate-intensity exercise for 150 to 300 minutes per week.
Levels of Intensity
If we speak of intensity, there are three intensity levels: low, moderate, and high.
Low-intensity exercise is below 50% of maximum heart rate (MHR). Nevertheless, this is an excellent level to achieve during warm-ups.
Moderate-intensity exercise falls between 50% and 70% of MHR. This is the intensity that many people typically want to achieve when working out.
High-intensity exercise falls between 70% and 85% of MHR. When you do this kind of exercise, it will leave you too breathless to even talk.
Cardio at Home? Why Not!
Doing cardio at the gym is by no means your only option. Suppose it is true that a gym will grant you access to various options like treadmills, climbers, rowing machines, elliptical trainers, and others. You can also do it outdoor and at home.
If you like to do outdoor exercise, you can try walking, running, and cycling. If you want to do it at home instead, you can try activities like jogging in place, jumping jacks, jumping rope, and burpees. Of course, you can always get your own elliptical machine or treadmill, too.
The Benefits of Cardio
When it is done correctly, aerobic exercise brings many benefits that not many other activities can match. The benefits include
- Burns calories and fat
- Improves lung capacity
- Strengthen the heart
- Improves sleep quality, mainly if the exercise is moderate to high in intensity
- Lowers stress
- Lowers risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack
- Promotes feeling good
- Weight-bearing activity, such as climbing stairs and hiking, is known to increases bone density
Now you know more about cardio. Considering adding these exercises into your daily routine? That’s a great idea!
Before you start, you should talk to your doctor so that you know what exercises fit you. That way, you can take all the benefits while minimizing the risk to your health.