An important part of exercise as is it pertains to overall health is the cardio work that we do. Aerobic exercise has been proven to have tons of benefits on our heart health and is something that we should definitely make an effort to include in our exercise programs. While there are some of us who are more orientated towards strength training as our main form of exercise, we can still see the benefit of aerobic exercise, and support our progress in strength training with even a little bit of aerobic exercise.
Cardio or aerobic exercise is for the most part is a type of exercise done for the purpose of increasing endurance. With consistent cardio the body makes adaptations that makes your heart more efficient at pumping blood. The heart becomes stronger, which helps reduce the resting heart rate. The muscles involved in respiration strengthen as well, which allows you to breathe and get air in and out of your lungs better. Along with improving heart health, cardio helps lower blood pressure, manage diabetes, improves bone health, mental health, and the list goes on. While there are some risks associated with cardio, the benefits out way the risk pretty significantly.
When doing cardio such as walking, jogging, biking, or anything else there are a few things to keep in mind. One being that its recommended that you stay within the aerobic training zone based on heart rate for the period of time you are exercising. That aerobic training zone will be 60 – 85% of your max heart. Your max heart rate will decrease with age and can be calculated by taking 220 and subtracting your age. It’s also important to keep in mind it’s recommended that you do of a minimum of 150 minutes of this moderate intensity exercise per week, which can be spread out throughout the week to fit your schedule.
Although staying within the aerobic training zone is optimal you can still see benefits outside of that target heart rate zone. Other ways performing heart health include interval training, which may include an anaerobic portion followed by a less intense portion of exercise, as with sprint interval training. This is more of a vigorous form of exercise and although it may take you out of the aerobic training zone, there are studies showing that interval training can be used a way to improve your VO2max which is the amount of oxygen the body can take in and use over a given time period.
As a whole cardio is great for the body. And even if you cant reach the target recommendations, any exercise is better than nothing, and you can always work up to those points. When doing your cardio, always start with a light warm up, use proper footwear, stay hydrated, and remember to pay attention to your breath.