Cardio may not be for everyone, but it is an extremely effective way to lose weight and improve your endurance capabilities.
What is cardio?
Cardio is any activity designed to increase your heart race and improve your cardiovascular system above anything else health-related. Walking, running, swimming and cycling are all good examples.
How does it help?
Firstly, the impact that cardio has upon your heart is tremendous. Your heart is just like any other muscle in your body – it needs to be trained in order to become stronger and more effective. By training the heart it will be healthier into old age and be at a lower risk of failing or picking up diseases. Cardio increases your heart rate and teaches your heart how to be more capable with increased blood flow. This means you’ll have a lower resting heart rate – a strong sign of a healthy heart.
Also, cardio boosts our metabolism: the process through which the calories that enter our body get turned into energy. A faster metabolism means more fat loss and more calories burned.
Cardio can also help strengthen your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. This means you’ll be at a lower risk of injury and at a lower risk of falling in old age. However, it’s important to note that these benefits are activity dependent and with moderate training. For instance, swimming doesn’t place a lot of pressure on your joints which keeps them healthier. Though, running can impact your knees, ankles and hips heavily. If you run too often you may be at a higher risk of injuring these areas.
Many people find cardio therapeutic, too. Walking, running or cycling in the outdoors is a great way to clear the mind and allow you to focus on things other than work and stresses.
What are the best forms of cardio?
Let’s first take a look at how many calories each activity burns per hour.
- Walking – 300-400kcal
- Running – 600kcal
- Cycling – 600kcal
- Rowing – 800kcal
- Swimming – 600kcal
- Jump Rope – 1000kcal
Obviously, you may not be able or want to keep up these activities for a full hour but it does give you an idea of the rewards from each activity.
However, each activity brings with it different benefits. Swimming works the whole body, is low impact on the joints and is diverse with the amount of different strokes. However, as you can’t listen to music and the scenery doesn’t change it can be boring for some people. Cycling is great for working the thighs and allows for you to get places quickly. Though, it requires a large initial investment if you don’t have a bike and may not be appropriate in some weathers.
What is the best cardio workout?
At the end of the day, the best cardio workout is the one which you can stick to. You may want to use different activates or you may want to just stick to one. The choice is yours. Though, the one which you enjoy most will most likely be the one that gets you the best results on the inside and outside.
Always look for a way to make the activates more exciting if none of them really appeal. Don’t like running? What about if it’s part of a sport? Think about joining a soccer, baseball or football team. Even a running club is a good choice if you just don’t want to run alone.
The point is that any cardio workout will have advantages if practiced in moderation. There’s no right or wrong way, simply the best way for you.