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Ultimate Guide to Cardio Exercise


Cardio workouts are the most basic exercise programs as they’re actually the very first routines you’ll do upon deciding on starting a fitness regime. Defined simply as any exercise that can elevate your heart rate and respiration through the use of large muscle groups, it can improve the functioning of your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and various muscles.


The term “cardio” can refer to both cardiovascular workouts and cardiorespiratory fitness. It can also refer to aerobic exercises. It’s deemed as one of the most important fitness routines there is that the American College of Sports Medicine actually recommends everyone to do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day for five days a week to stay in good shape. Additionally, implementing the rowing machine at home can greatly improve these performances without impacting your schedule and physical injuries.


With so many different opinions on how cardio workouts impact one’s fitness, you might have some conflicting views regarding this routine. This article aims to help you get to know this exercise better so you can take full advantage of it for your fitness goals.


Why do Cardio Workout?

Before we go down to the nitty gritty details of cardio, the first thing that you might be very curious about is the fact why it’s deemed as a highly important fitness routine. Despite the contrasting opinions about this workout, a lot of experts still stress its usefulness and importance. If you want to know why, here are a few benefits of cardiovascular exercise and why you should give it a try.


It will Help You Manage Your Weight Effectively

The biggest draw of cardiovascular workouts is its promise to help you lose weight. While strength training tried to steal cardio’s thunder by claiming that it can boost your metabolism and help you lose weight in your sleep, Duke University researchers have proven that cardio is still king when it comes to weight loss.


According to the study, subjects who took on aerobic training was able to lose more body weight than subjects who did strength training and combination of both. What should be noted, however, is that the numbers in these studies aren’t very impressive? The subjects only lost 3.8 pounds in 8 months, so cardio alone might not be the best weight loss regime there is.


It can, however, be a great way to keep a healthy weight and balance out your diet. The right workouts can help you burn calories effectively, making cardio workouts good for managing one’s weight. They’re also great additions to other weight loss routines and programs. To add on that this is a great opportunity take your workouts outdoor by learning how to use an upright exercise bike and have your body quickly adapt to the changes.


It can Keep You Healthy

We know that you already know this point, but it’s so good it bears repeating: cardio can keep you healthy. It’s good for your entire body, especially for your heart, respiratory system, and circulatory system. It can also keep you in good mood and release endorphins (a. k. a. the body’s natural painkillers).


It can Help Build Your Muscles

Some people might not believe it, but cardio can actually help build more muscle mass. In the past, folks thought that doing cardio while trying to bulk up will only negate your gains, but a recent study has just disproved this claim.


High-intensity cardio, or those routines that can get you up to 80% of your heart rate, is said to increase muscle size.  With a higher heart rate, your blood’s circulation will be more efficient and effective, so the oxygen in your blood can be better distributed to your muscles, strengthening them and adding some bulk to it. Intensity, however, is key, so if you really want to boost your gains, you should up the intensity of your cardio workouts.


It will Energize your Lungs

As cardio workouts involve large muscle groups, it’s capable of increasing your body’s heart rate, which can, in turn, make you breathe faster and more deeply. This helps draw in and distribute oxygen more effectively, letting you use it all up more efficiently.


This efficiency is called your aerobic capacity. The higher one’s aerobic capacity is, the higher the amount of oxygen the heart, lungs, and blood vessels can distribute all throughout the body. This can increase your endurance and boost your energy.


How to Get Started in Cardio Exercise

If you’re interested in doing some cardio, here are a few tips how you can get started:


1. Do your research and get to know the different types of cardio exercises.

Research is vital if you want to get started with cardio. This way, you can be sure that you’ll be taking on the fitness routine correctly so you can actually enjoy its benefits. Doing so will also make sure that you won’t over exert yourself which can lead to injuries and burnout. A great lightweight way equipment to introduce you to this type of workout is by using the recumbent exercise bike.


One of the first things you need to know about when starting your cardio regime is what your maximum and target heart rates should be. Knowing about these figures will let you monitor your heart rate and ensure that you will get the right amount of workout to reach your goal without over exert yourself. You first need to calculate your maximum heart rate which you can do by subtracting your age from 220. If you’re 26, then you only have to take 26 from 220 which will put your maximum heart rate at 194.


To get your target heart rate, which is the rate you should achieve during your v, you have to multiply your maximum heart rate to the percentage required by your workout. For beginners, the ideal heart rate to benefit from your cardio is 70 to 75%. So, if you have the maximum heart rate of 194, you only have to multiply it to .7 to get 136 or to .75 to get 145. These will make up your heart rate training zone which will be the ideal rate for at least 20 minutes of your cardio workout.


Learning about the different types of cardio exercises is an essential step in getting started in this fitness regime as it can determine the outcome of your workouts. Choose which one will suit your needs best among the three of the most popular below:

a. Steady State

This is easy to moderate level kind of cardio, which is what most beginners would like to start with. It requires having a target heart rate of 70% for at least 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your schedule and goal. It may sound overly simple, but it’s actually a great start when improving your fitness and endurance training.

b. HigHigh-Intensityterval Training (HIIT)

Being one of the trendiest training modalities as of late, the HIIT is also one of the most promising kinds of cardio if you want to overhaul your fitness. As your body requires constant challenges and different routines to keep losing weight, it can be a great technique to use if your goal is to shed some pounds.


To enjoy an HIIT cardio session, you should alternate bursts of all out intensity with rests. This means that your workouts should consist of full, about-to-pass-out levels of exertion and then rest for twice the amount of time. If you’re running, you should sprint at full speed and effort for 60 seconds, then, rest for 120 seconds. This will train your aerobic and anaerobic systems and also target your metabolic flexibility or your body’s ability to transition from burning fats as you rest to burning carbs as you work out.


It’s very easy to make mistakes in HIIT, though. So, it’s best to do your research first before diving into this kind of cardio.


c. Variable Intensity Interval Training (VIIT)

VIIT is a lot like HIIT, but this one requires more variety when it comes to the durations of your workouts and intervals. This is done to keep the body guessing, so it won’t be able to predict your movements and so it will always be kept in top shape.


2. Set Your goal

A goal is essential for those who want to stay motivated. As working out doesn’t always offer immediate results, you’ll want to make sure that you’ll stay on track while you still haven’t achieved what you started your cardio workouts for.


3. Choose Your Cardio Workout Method.

There are also tons of different cardiovascular workouts that you can choose from. You can run, swim, cycle, and climb stair jumps or row among many others. You can also try specific routines like plyometric. Pick one that will suit your preferences and won’t aggravate your existing conditions should you have any. If you find this method of training difficult then we suggest you consider this spin bike reviews as a guide for stationary workouts.


4. Combine it With Other Methods to Spice Up Your Routine and Achieve Your Desired Goal.

Boost the effects of your cardiovascular workouts, achieve your fitness goal, and keep yourself interested in your regime by combining different routines and methods. Additional research or professional help will teach you how to craft a highly effective program, so if you don’t know how to proceed, you always have options how to go about this step.


Cardio and Your Mental Health

According to experts, some of the best benefits of cardiovascular exercise is its positive effects on your mental health. A few of its most promising effects are:

Lower Chances of Developing Anxiety, Stress, and Depression

Aerobic exercises are found to be effective in combating signs of anxiety, stress, and depression. As experts put it, this is because exercise can induce an increase in blood circulation to the brain which can have an effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and a person’s ability to handle the stress that can lead to anxiety or depression. It is also proposed that cardio can serve as a distraction, as well as a means for social interaction, and self-efficacy.


In a different experiment done with mice, researchers found results suggesting that exercise can help calm anxiety by producing inhibitory neurons, which dampens the excitatory neurons that fire up when faced with stress. While this hasn’t been studied extensively on humans just yet, experts can confidently suggest that it won’t be a stretch for humans to exhibit the same reactions.

Improves Mood

Many fitness buffs also call themselves “endorphin junkies” as they run and do other cardio exercises to get the post-workout high it comes with. This shouldn’t be a surprise as the body does release the pain-relieving hormones known as endorphins after a satisfying workout. Many attribute their fleeting euphoria to this hormone, but, as a study suggests, this improvement in mood can also be attributed to the body’s production of endocannabinoids. This chemical is a lot like the cannabinoids in marijuana as both can alleviate one’s mood as an effect.


Then there’s also the hormones serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin can be produced by long-term cardio, while dopamine is also produced by physical activity. Both can help boost one’s mood and even improve one’s social behavior.

Boost Brain Power

Aerobic exercise is also found out to be a major contributor to the boost in production of the chemical known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This substance is dubbed as a “fertilizer for the brain” as it can help the proper growth of brain cells, learning, and mood regulation. This chemical mixes with the other hormones produced during cardio, allowing it to process information better and even create new cells.

Sharpens Memory

Cardio exercises are also great tools to keep your memory sharp. The chemicals that are produced during workouts tend to help keep the good health of brain cells, which can keep your memory intact and in great working condition. It’s also discovered that regular cardio can keep you sharp even in your later years. It can help fight off dementia, so getting started right away will surely be more beneficial for many.

Improves Self-Confidence

When you work out, you often have a goal that you will try to achieve each session. Even if it’s just an extra mile from your last run or if it’s finishing a lap a few seconds faster than your most recent record, it will help you feel accomplished. The sense of achievement you get from attaining your goal can help boost your self-confidence, which is often followed by a mood enhancement among other things. While a boost in self-esteem is just deemed as a side benefit of cardio exercises, it wouldn’t hurt to take full advantage of it when you have the chance.


There’s no denying that cardio is simply the most popular, most beneficial, and possibly the most important workouts there is. It can be done in so many ways and has a plethora of science-proven benefits that you should be taking advantage of, so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t give this fitness regime a shot. With its flexibility, you can easily squeeze in a good cardio routine with your other fitness programs. All you need to do is find the best cardio workout for men (or women) and you’ll get yourself a great way to stay in great shape.

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