With the advent of a new year comes the resolution to get healthier. A lot of people hit the gym around January to get fit, but you may be looking into exercise for other reasons. Maybe you’re committing to healthier living, or you’re looking to optimize your existing workout routine. Whatever the case, here is what you need to know about cardio and how to incorporate some into your exercises.
What Is Cardio?
A lot of people use the term cardio, meaning exercise that increases your heart rate. However, few people actually know the exact definition. Cardio exercises or aerobic exercises are defined as a rhythmic activity that increases the heart rate. Having your heart rate reach levels within a specific target zone will help you burn more calories and fat. This may be consistent exercise or bouts of intense exercise with rest time in between. Ideally, you want to aim for sessions that last at least ten minutes. However, scientists say that any length of cardio can be beneficial. Here are a few points to remember about cardio
Does Cardio Burn Fat?
Yes. A lot of people engage in cardio for fat loss, specifically. Some popular cardio for cutting fat includes running and cycling.
Does Cardio Burn Muscle?
Cardio can burn muscle if you’re doing it with enough intensity. However, there are ways to get your cardio in without losing muscle mass.
Different Types of Cardio
One of the best things about cardio is flexibility. You can do a lot of things, both outdoors and indoors, that will get your heart rate into the target zone. Here are just a few cardio types.
Best Cardio for Weight Loss at the Gym
There are plenty of cardio-centered ways to work out at the gym. Some of the most popular cardio exercises include the treadmill, the elliptical, and the stationary bike. However, there are also other options for aerobic exercise, including dance and martial arts classes. If you do decide to take a dance or martial arts class, you’ll be getting strength training as well as hitting your daily cardio goal.
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Cardio for the Outdoors
Popular forms of outdoor cardio include walking, running, cycling, and hiking. Even running to and from a store that’s fifteen minutes away gives you a nice 30-minute cardio workout.
Best Cardio for Fat Loss
If shedding weight is your ultimate goal, activities like running, swimming, rowing, cycling, and jump rope are recommended. Best cardio for weight loss at the gym will include a treadmill, elliptical, and swimming.
Benefits of Cardio
Cardio exercise has a lot of both physical and mental benefits. In fact, you’ll probably want to do some after you read through this list. Here are just some of what cardio does:
- Burns fat and helps with weight loss
- Burns calories
- Strengthens the heart muscle and increases lung capacity
- Reduces risks of serious conditions including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Helps combat some forms of cancer
- Certain forms of cardio increase bone density and help fight osteoporosis and age-related bone problems.
- Provides endorphins for improved mental health
- Helps improve sleep and reduce stress
- Improves your sex life
- Gives you confidence
Certain forms of cardio increase bone density and help fight osteoporosis and age-related bone problems.
How Much Cardio Should I Do?
The first question that most people ask about cardio is how much should be done. Here’s some good news: a little goes a long way. Doing even a few minutes of cardio every day is better than doing none at all. However, If you’re looking for a specific result, there are a few recommendations
How much cardio per week to stay healthy?
The recommended exercise for a healthy lifestyle is 150 minutes per week.
How much cardio to lose weight?
According to the National Institute of Health, you need at least 30-45 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per day to lose weight.
How long should you workout at the gym?
This depends on your goal. If you’re only doing cardio, a 30-minute workout can be sufficient. However, you may also decide that you want to build strength, which takes extra effort and time.
How Many Days a Week Should I workout to lose weight?
You’ll want to aim for five days a week, but you can also do more vigorous cardio for 3 days a week.
Is There Such Thing As Too Much Cardio
As with many things in life, moderation is key to achieving a healthy exercise routine. So, how much cardio is too much? Going over an hour can put you at risk for straining muscles- especially if you’re just starting out.
The Diet Component:
It’s impossible to discuss better health without at least mentioning diet. Here are a few key points:
How many calories should I eat a day?
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to aim for 1500 calories a day. However, the type of calories is also important. You’ll want to balance healthy foods with your favorites.
How many calories is too much?
Most experts agree that consuming over 2000 calories a day is too much. However, your consumption should also depend on your frequency of exercise. Some athletes, for instance, will consume much more simply because they burn much in training.
Before You Choose
If you have certain systemic conditions or old injuries, you may want to consult a doctor before starting any new form of exercise. Even if you don’t feel like you need to speak to a doctor, you should always approach a new exercise routine with care. It’s actually better to start slow and exercise in moderation than to go hard and to injure yourself.
- How long should you workout? At least 150 minutes a week, but any amount of time will make a difference.
- How much cardio a day? Aim for 30-45 minutes of cardio a day, five days a week.
- There is no such thing as one “best” cardio exercise for staying healthy or losing weight.
- Start somewhere and remain flexible. If you hate running, try swimming, cycling, or a dance class.
- Exercise and diet go hand in hand.
- Always approach new exercise with caution to avoid injuries.
- Sticking with a routine is the hardest part.