What is Cardio and Why is it Important to Your Fitness Routine?

It’s common knowledge that exercise will help keep you healthy. But do you know what kind of exercise will help you get the best results? The NHS recommends that you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity every week, but you might be wondering, what is cardio?
For starters, cardio is key to making sure you are fit and healthy. It’s important to find a plan for cardio exercise that works for you. This helps make it a part of your routine so that it’s easier to stick to it. It also ensures that you are working at a pace that’s right for you so you can reap the full benefits of cardio!

Cardio also offers you a way to improve your endurance and stamina, abilities that will help you out in other exercises as well. This makes cardio a great type of exercise that is recommended for everyone.

What is Cardio?

It’s important to keep in mind that before you begin any cardio routine it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to ensure you are finding the right type, and pace of cardio for your fitness level and goals.
Then, before you head off to the gym, it can also be helpful to understand how your exercises are benefitting you.
So let’s dive in and answer your top question – what is cardio?!

Image Credit

Cardio describes a type of exercise which will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. In the middle of your cardio exercise, you’ll be breathing quickly and starting to sweat!
Most people think of running as a popular cardio exercise. It is, after all, one of the most well-known examples, but did you know that any exercise has the potential to be classified as cardio? The word cardio refers to your heart. So any moderate to intense exercise will do the trick.

If it gets your heart rate up for a longer period of time, it’s cardio! So yes, a jog or an energetic swim are great examples of cardio exercise.
There are just as many different ways to practise cardio as there are people working out! Some of us like to go to the gym and work up a sweat. Others like to work out in their home. They might be doing the same thing, like running on a treadmill, but are taking different approaches to get fit!

Cardio can take many different forms, so read on to find out more about types of cardio and what exercise will work best for your needs.

Do You Need to Combine Cardio With Strength Training?

Creating a routine that includes both cardio and strength training can help you lead a healthy lifestyle.
Both cardio and strength training each have a different benefit for your body. Cardio is often chosen to help with maintaining a healthy weight. On the other end of the spectrum, strength training helps you build muscle. The good thing is that both are healthy options for you and both can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

Strength and cardio training need to be kept in balance. If you exercise five days a week, consider alternating three cardio days with two strength days. This will ensure your training will get you on your way to achieving your health goals.
Cardio

Image Credit

If you find you need more strength than cardio, feel free to switch up the number of days you spend on each activity. The key is to align your exercise routines with your fitness goals.
In the end, a balanced routine with both cardio and strength training exercises will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle that improves your endurance and tones muscles.

What Are The Benefits of Cardio Exercise?

Cardio exercise has many health benefits that you can look forward to. First of all, it has great physical health benefits. Whether you want to have an easier time with lugging around your groceries after the big weekly shop or being able to jog to catch the bus without losing your breath, you’ll see improvements in your everyday life!
It also promotes a healthy lifestyle. Regular cardio not only keeps you in shape, it also helps you maintain a healthy weight. Since cardio gets your heart rate up, you burn calories.

what is cardio

Image Credit

It also helps improve your metabolism, ensuring that you turn the food you eat into the right kind of energy. Combined with a balanced diet, you could see substantial improvements in terms of your weight and health. And of course, a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of developing certain diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The increase in your heart rate improves blood flow throughout your body and gives your circulatory system a boost. This will give you added energy and work to strengthen your heart and lungs. This can be key to offsetting the effects of ageing. So regular cardio exercise can help you now and also later in life!
Exercise is also proven to reduce stress. So a good bout of cardio a few times a week can help you forget about your workplace stressors. You could even switch up a regular running routine for boxing lessons to try something different.

What is The Best Cardio to do at The Gym?

At the gym, you have your choice of different machines that are designed to give you a great cardio workout. Read on for some of the best ways to get your cardio workout in at the gym with the right equipment.
Treadmills: These are popular gym machines that are sure to help you work up a sweat. You can pick a pace that suits your need for intensity. You can also add an incline to your run to make it a bit more difficult, ensuring you are getting the cardio you want.
Rowing machine: These machines will definitely work out your arms and legs. This vigorous activity will certainly get your heart rate up for the perfect gym activity.
Rowing Machine

Image Credit

Stationary bicycle: A gym staple, stationary biking can be customised to suit your desires of difficulty. Once you get pedalling, you’ll see your heart rate rise and feel the effects of the exercise.   
Swimming: Some gyms may also offer a swimming pool for laps. This is a great cardio activity that may not be possible elsewhere. Remember to set a pace that you can maintain for your swim. Breaststroke is more of a challenging stroke and is perfect for swimming as exercise.

What Are The Best Cardio Exercises at Home?

Even though you may not have gym equipment at home, you can still start up your cardio exercises and get your heart pumping! Many of these exercises are designed to work in a small space, but if you’re lucky enough, you may be able to take your workout outside to enjoy a spot of great weather! Here are a few of the best cardio exercises to do at home.
Jumping rope: Adopt a steady but slightly challenging pace. The trick is to get your heart beating more quickly than normal, but don’t try and jump rope so fast that you are making mistakes. Aim to jump rope longer for a better exercise.
Jogging: You can do this either on the streets by your home, if the weather permits, or by jogging in place in your home or on a home treadmill. Choose a pace that gets your heart rate up and maintain it throughout the duration. Don’t forget the warmup!
Jogging

Image Credit

Climbing stairs: If you live in a multi-unit building, this is the perfect time to take the stairs! Even just one flight of stairs can turn into a great cardio exercise. Start at the bottom (or top) and step up them briskly. Aim for the same pace as a slow jog to get your heart rate up. Do several repetitions until you feel the burn in your muscles.
Jumping jacks, burpees, squat jumps: These cardio activities work well in the home. You just need the space to do them! These moves are easy to learn and get your heart rate up in the repetition. Plan to do these moves for a set number of reps or for a set timeline that is long enough to affect your muscles!

Summary

No matter whether you want to train hard or just want to work out now that you’ve answered the question – what is cardio? It’s clear that it’s a great choice for your exercise routine? You can choose the right type of exercise to help you reach your goals. And cardio doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Find your passion for exercise and enjoy whatever cardio you choose.
Cardio

Image Credit

If you aren’t sure how to start your training, remember that you can also enlist an instructor’s help. They can create a custom plan designed around your goals with your current fitness level in mind. This way, you’ll start out on the right foot with cardio!

Suggested Reading

Featured Image Credit