I get asked all the time. “Cardio. Should I be doing it? What cardio should I do? Isn't cardio best for losing weight?”
Now, many people hear cardio and they immediately think of running. And while they would be correct, a lot of people cannot run for a variety of different reasons. Maybe they have bad knees or some other injury and the impact of running is not good for them. Perhaps they just loathe getting on the treadmill, running for ten minutes only to look down and realize it's been 30 seconds.(that's a joke just to be clear) Whatever it may be running isn't for everyone. It also isn't the only form of cardio.
Before we get into that, what even is cardio training? cardio(vascular) training is an activity that gets your blood pumping and large muscle groups working.
I very strongly (no pun intended) believe that strength training is the best form of exercise you can do for your overall health (and science backs me up), but that doesn't mean that cardio has no purpose in a fitness regimen. So to answer some of your questions I asked one of our young clients, Alex, who has recently developed a passion for fitness, health, and wellness, if he could come to me with three benefits of cardio and three alternatives to running. Here are the great answers he came back to me with.
Cardio exercise helps your heart pump blood more efficiently. Because of this it is commonly used among people who have various heart conditions in order to strengthen the heart.
Cardio strengthens your respiratory system. This can be especially beneficial for those who suffer from asthma. By strengthening the respiratory system it can reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Cardio is lower in intensity, meaning that it doesn’t fatigue our Central Nervous System as easily as weight training, as long as you are going about it correctly. Much like strength training, long cardio sessions tend to have a diminishing returns effect. More isn't always better. 15-30 is the sweet spot
Like I previously mentioned, running is usually people's first thought when it comes to cardio, but it's not the only form of cardio there is. So here are the great alternatives Alex found.
Water Aerobics. You've probably seen this before. Your parents or grandparents packed into the pool at your local YMCA or public pool. Maybe some sort of flotation device and they just move throughout the pool. While it may seem silly at first, it's actually a great form of cardio exercise. Main reason being that it puts very little strain on your joints.
Rowing. Rowing is another great form of cardio. It engages both the upper and lower body while still being light on the joints. Just make sure you pick the right resistance level for you and you'll get a great full body workout. It especially targets the posterior chain muscles, the backside of the body, which are crucial to our overall health and wellness and making sure our body functions properly.
Jump rope. Yup that's right. That really fun thing you used to do when you were a kid. Bet you didn't even realize it was a great form of exercise. That's one of the reasons jumping rope is my preferred form of cardio. It's just so darn fun. It's also great for hand eye coordination, improving foot speed which can help with balance and preventing falls, increasing shoulder strength, and it touches a bunch of calories in the process. Depending on your pace you can burn up to 500 calories in just a 30 minute session. And even though it requires a bit of jumping it actually is a low impact exercise which makes it easy for the joints.
There you go. These are but a few of the amazing benefits and alternatives for cardio, but there are so many more benefits and variations that are great for you. A big shout out to Alex for providing us with the amazing information to keep us all living a healthy, happy, and vibrant life.
Yours In Health,
Ray Taylor, Head Trainer
Out Run Your Fork Personal Training in Westfield, NJ
PS: If you want to know what type of exercise you should be doing, how often you should be doing it and avoid injury while doing it, then get some more information on what we do, how much it costs and whenther we're right for you. Click Here to learn more about Cost and Availability.
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