Cardio exercises use large muscle movements over a sustained period of time; keeping your heart rate at at least 50% of its maximum level. A strong cardiovascular system means more oxygen can be delivered to your muscles during exercise, enabling you to burn more fat.Why is Cardio Important?
- Improves Heart Health: even though you can’t see it, your heart is like any other muscle in your body; you have to train it in order for it to become stronger. When you train your heart you are enabling it to contract better and push more blood to the rest of your body during exercise. This will make exercise and daily activities, such as walking or taking the stairs, much easier.
- Increases Your Metabolism: increasing your heart rate not only creates a stronger and healthier heart, but it will also increase your metabolism. Higher metabolism = more calories burned during exercise and at rest.
- Releases Endorphins: Did you know individuals who partake in some sort of cardiovascular training are said to have a better outlook on life? This is thanks to chemicals inside of our bodies known as Endorphins. When we workout our body releases endorphins, thus causing an ease to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and anger.
- Weight Management: By performing cardio a few times per week we are helping to manage conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
How Much Cardio Should You Be Doing?
According to the American Heart Association, “Adults should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes OR 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days a week for a total of 75 minutes.”
However, this doesn’t have to mean getting on the treadmill, elliptical, etc. for and extended period of time.
Remember, cardio is anything that increases your heart rate.
Next time you go to the gym try incorporating these ideas to increase your heart rate, get your cardio in, enjoy your workout, and burn more calories without having to step foot on a treadmill!
- Plyometrics/HIIT training: strength training, cardio training, muscle building, and fat burning like no other! Killing 4 birds with one stone? No matter how you put it, this one is guaranteed to get your heart rate up.
- Active Rest Period: instead of just waiting 30 seconds-2 minutes before hitting your next strength training set, throw in a body weight movement (jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, squat jumps) that will keep your heart rate up while waiting.
- Super Sets, Drop Sets, Giant Sets: all of these are ways to continue to elevate your heart rate and burn more calories while still engaging your muscle.
- Reduce the Amount of Rest Time: instead of waiting 1 minute between sets, drop it down to 30 seconds between sets. It doesn’t sound like a major difference but it’s sure to get your heart up!
picture: Haley Springer