I had to write a blog on this question because I know tons of people who get confused about what cardio actually is. When I ask people what they think cardio is, the most common responses are “running on the treadmill, elliptical or biking.” Yes, these are absolutely forms of cardio but it’s not what cardio is. Cardio stands for cardiovascular, but you never hear people saying “I am going to go do cardiovascular.” I think it is important to know what cardiovascular is so we can understand that cardio exercises aren’t just for losing weight but it’s necessary for our health. The most important function of cardio is to improve the amount of oxygen in our blood. It is a form of exercising to strengthen our heart so that it can supply blood and oxygen efficiently to all parts of our body. Our heart is an organ composed of cardiac muscle that allows the heart to contract creating a heartbeat. Just like all other muscles in our body we have to exercise it in order for it to stay strong and healthy.
So this is where people get confused. They think that the only way to improve their cardio is by basic cardio exercises like running, biking, stationary machines etc. Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate. It necessarily doesn’t have to be done on a stationary machine to get the benefits. For example, my client told me that she helped move in her friend’s son to college. For 30 minutes she went up and down the stairs carrying boxes. She said she was sweating buckets and her heart rate was through the roof. Well, her heart rate was up, her blood was flowing; oxygen was pumping, so that essentially is cardio. Chasing your kids in the backyard, walking around the mall holding shopping bags, walking up and down the stairs at work are all FORMS of cardio. If your heart is pumping for an extended period of time, that my friend IS cardio!!
Some of you now may be excited you don’t have to spend time on those stationary machines anymore and some of you may be thinking “crap now I don’t have an excuse to not exercise”. Well you don’t, and EVERYONE should be getting at least 20 minutes of cardio in a day. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 times a week. But the good news is it doesn’t have to be all at once. You can break it up into segments throughout the day. So you can do three 10 minute segments or six five minute sessions. Also, it doesn’t have to be boring. Do things that interest you; dance around the house, play with your kids or pets..the options are endless!
It is super important to get your 30 minutes of exercise in because it comes with so many health benefits. Not only does it help control your weight but it also reduces your risk of heart disease, improves cholesterol levels, improves mood, reduces risk of osteoporosis and diabetes, and increases brain function. Most importantly it enhances your overall health and well-being and every step you take is a step towards a longer and healthier life.
So now that you have no excuse and know the importance of exercising your heart, get out of those office chairs and give me 5 times up and down the stairs..Hut Hut!!