Cardio or Cardiovascular exercise is absolutely critical to a good fitness program because it burns lots of calories and strengthens your lungs and heart.
What is cardio exercise?
Cardio exercise put simply is any form of exercise such as walking, running, jogging, cycling which you do long enough to push your heart and lungs to a greater degree of activity.
Many people will also use the term “aerobic” exercise to describe the same thing but regardless of what it is called you simply need to use the bigger muscles in your body(such as your legs, back, chest) to describe it as cardio exercise.
However in order to maximize the benefit that you will surely derive from cardio exercise it is important to recognise two key factors.
1. Warming Up
Before engaging in cardio exercise it is vital that you warm up properly and those who are most unfit will need to warm up the longest because their muscles will have become unaccustomed to any physical activity.
2. Cooling Down
Cooling down after your cardio exercise is equally important and the reason for this is the necessity to get your body temperature and blood flow back to normal. This cooling down also assists with preventing the blood from gathering at one point in your body which can occur if you have been exercising vigorously.
To derive maximum benefit from your cardio workouts you need to strike a balance between the limited benefit you would gain from walking around the shopping mall and working flat out to the point where you risk injury and increase the risk of infections and burnout.
So, how do you strike this balance?
The most accurate and reliable way is to monitor your heart rate and this can be done by simply counting the number of beats of your heart per minute (your pulse). This can be done easily with a heart rate monitor or a stopwatch and measuring your pulse at your wrist and counting the number of beats in a minute.
The great thing about cardio exercise is that research carried out by medical professionals has shown that you can significantly reduce your risk of heart trouble by exercising aerobically for 20 minutes three times a week. However if your goal is to achieve permanent weight loss then you will need to augment your cardio exercise by changing your diet and starting a weight training program.
The reason for this is that put simply it would be difficult to engage in enough cardio exercise on its own which would burn sufficient calories to shed the pounds. Consider this-in order to lose one pound of weight you need to burn around 3,500 calories; a 30 minute walk will only burn around 100-150 calories, depending on intensity of effort.
In conclusion to obtain permanent weight loss you will need to let cardio exercise form one leg of a triumvirate which must also include a weight training program and a change in diet.