Cardiovascular exercise (“cardio”), or aerobic exercise, is fundamental for health and overall well being. Aerobic just means “with oxygen,” so any exercise that gets your body moving and your breath heavy can be cardio exercise. These exercises that increase our heart rate help to increase our aerobic capacity (how well we can use our oxygen) and offer numerous benefits for our heart and overall physical health. Let’s explore what these benefits are and see why cardio is so important.
Benefits of Cardio Exercise
You might gather this from the name, but yes, regular cardiovascular exercise improves overall cardiovascular health! This helps to reduce risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Regular physical activity also helps regulate blood sugar and strengthens our immune system.
Cardio exercise is often associated with weight loss, and it’s true that the blood-pumping, heart-racing, heavy-breathing state burns serious calories. Compared to most other forms of exercise (like weight lifting, yoga, or pilates), cardio does burn more calories per session. And unless you’re doing vigorous high-impact workouts, cardio doesn’t require the same recovery period as strength training or weight lifting, so it can be incorporated into your daily routine with ease. When paired with a healthy diet, frequent cardio exercise can be a great strategy for losing weight in a healthy way.
Cardio isn’t just good for your heart—it’s also great for your mind. Cardio exercise sends endorphins to your brain that will leave you feeling happier (think “runner’s high”) and reduce stress, leading to increased energy during the day and more restful sleep at night. Regular cardio can even improve memory capacity and help fight against the loss of brain tissue that comes with aging.
Examples of Cardio Exercise
Convinced yet? If you’re ready to start incorporating cardio into your routine, the good news is that most forms of cardio are simple and free. Examples of cardio exercise include:
- Brisk walking or running
- Indoor cycling and outdoor bike riding
- HIIT or high intensity interval training
- Elliptical or stair climber
- Jumping rope
- Sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, etc.
Because the key to a healthy routine is long-term sustainability, be open to experimenting with various forms of cardio exercise until you find an activity that you truly enjoy (dance party, anyone?).
If you’re ready to experience the physical and mental benefits of cardio exercise, join us for an indoor cycling class: yogafevergr.com/classes/schedule/