Cardio workouts mean any type of exercise that uses large muscle groups and increase the heart rate.
An efficient cardio workout should last at least 20 minutes and should reach at least 50% of the maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate (MHR) can be obtained by subtracting from 220 the age of the person who is doing the cardio exercises. The easiest way to monitor the heart rate during cardio exercises is to use a pulse monitoring device, which can provide us with an overview of our pulse and the efficiency of our workout.
Many people who start exercising wrongly assume that cardio exercises mean losing weight. And since weight loss occurs especially when there is a difference between the number of burned and ingested calories, it’s obvious that a coherent program of cardio exercises is a step towards weight loss, but this is not the only step. Weigh loss shouldn’t be the only reason why we’re exercising, so please find below a list of the benefits of cardio exercises as long as they are done correctly and at an appropriate time.
Cardio workouts improve the health of the heart and of the cardiovascular system
The cardiac muscle tissue is the first to benefit from cardio exercises suitable to one’s personal resistance level. The heart will pump the blood with more power using less energy, and by doing cardio workouts that last for at least 30 minutes you will streamline the functioning of the entire cardiovascular system.
Cardio workouts speed up the metabolism
The cardio workout that manages to reach the efficiency level of 60% MHR and lasts for at least 30 minutes increases the EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which means it pushes the body to consume more oxygen and energy even after finishing exercising and even after the start of the recovery phase.
Maintaining the metabolic processes at a high efficiency level helps us maintain our weight at a healthy and constant level for longer periods of time, it helps us lose weight efficiently and quickly, and at the same time it slows down the aging process.
Cardio workouts enhance the functioning of the hormone system
A constant and efficient workout based also on cardio exercises helps reduce the hormones that accentuate fatigue, depression and stress, and at the same time it helps adjust the proper functioning of the hypothalamic – pituitary axis, which is responsible for the feedback mechanisms by means of which our body adjusts itself from a hormonal point of view.
A coherent cardio exercise program correlated with a correct food plan also helps control diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes.
Cardio workouts improve the recovery rate of the body by reducing the effects of muscle fatigue and by bringing more oxygen in the tissues, which speeds up recovery after intense physical effort. Therefore, no matter our workout objective, a cardio exercise routine is welcome in any workout plan.
What type of cardio workout routine should we do?
The first thing you should focus on, as a beginner, is focus on reaching a workout period of at least 30 minutes, and reach this stage by working our correctly, without pausing or going beyond the physical discomfort threshold (dizziness, nausea, high blood pressure, etc.).
Then I might say that apart from having a strict goal (marathon, cycling race, swimming competition, etc.), we should have a quite a varied program that should keep us motivated enough to have cardio workout 3-5 times a week.
Running or alternating between walking/jogging is an essential part of any cardio workout program. It’s important that each of our workout programs last at least 40 minutes, and that we set as a goal increasing our running speed at a pace that’ll bring us a 10% per week improvement in terms of speed or running distance.
Group fitness sessions improve stamina, use the large muscles of the upper body, develop motor skills and balance, and are also a god opportunity to socialize.
Swimming and aqua fitness should be practiced regularly, because they are a cardio workout for the entire body, they help us rebalance our posture and train without putting extra pressure on the spine and bigger joints.
Team sports – football, basketball and competition sports – tennis, squash develop not only our motor skills, but also our appetite for performance and winning, which are important components in leadership development.
Therefore no matter which of the above mentioned sports you choose, there’s at least one ideal solution for each of them!