Why is cardio good for me?
Cardio can help you to shed that extra weight
The more you move, the more calories you burn. Because cardio consists of constant movement, it can often burn more calories than weight lifting. This is because when you are lifting heavy weights, you normally have breaks in between sets to give your muscles a little break.
Some people ‘overdo’ cardio and tend to lose more weight than expected as too much cardio can result in excessive weight loss. The trick to achieving a slim, toned physique is to balance weight lifting and cardio.
A good idea is to bring in HIIT cardio – this stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. What this basically refers to is pushing yourself and your heart rate to the maximum at given intervals, and then resting for a specific amount of time afterwards. You can change the period of time in which you push yourself and rest according to your fitness levels. But the idea is that you burn more fat in a shorter amount of time through raising and dropping your heart rate intermittently. Some people prefer HIIT as opposed to same-pace extended cardio sessions as these can sometimes be drawn out and boring.
With HIIT you will be focused on pushing yourself and then trying to get your breath back in a short resting period. An example of HIIT cardio is sprinting at maximum effort for a minute and then resting for two minutes, then sprinting again for a minute. You repeat this cycle about five times – as stated, it all depends on your own fitness levels and you can work up to this if you battle to complete five rounds initially.
Quick note: If you are unable to complete a sentence properly during exercise, then you are pushing yourself too hard.
Cardio exercises your heart
Many people forget that your heart is an actual muscle that needs to be exercised. If you do not exercise it, like any other muscle, it will get weaker.
Thus, your heart needs to be constantly exercised in order to stay healthy and improve oxygen flow to your body. This allows you to operate at optimal performance in your daily life.
Cardio creates a strong circulatory system
When you exercise, the cells in your body need more nutrients and oxygen in order to keep you going. When you do cardio, this delivery system is strengthened as it allows the heart to increase blood flow and reinforces blood vessels. This means that your cells get more nutrients delivered to them.
If you think about your cardiovascular network to be a series of streets, when you are unhealthy and do not exercise, these streets can become congested and backed up with cars (plaque build-up within arteries). When you exercise, these streets become wide-lane highways with delivery trucks gliding through to deliver oxygenated blood and nutrients.
Cardio can make you smarter
You that read right. Cardio can, in fact, make you smarter. A study was done that examined how those who exercised regularly had stronger hearts which were able to pump more oxygenated blood to their brains. Researchers then compared these people to those who did not exercise and therefore had weaker hearts. When looking at the group who did not exercise, they noted that their brains had fewer nutrients and oxygen which resulted in them ageing faster and their brain functionality being compromised.
Cardio makes you happy
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These are known as ‘happy’ hormones as they enhance your mood and can help ease depression.
Cardio means better sleep
When you do cardio, you have exercised your body, released endorphins and possibly frustration from your daily life and this, in turn, allows you to have a better night’s sleep. That means that when you hit your pillow after a long day, your body has released excess energy through exercise, while nutrients and blood flow have been increased and so your body is ready to rest more effectively.