The word “cardio” is used in short for cardiovascular fitness. Cardio exercises are sometimes also referred to as “aerobic exercises”. Cardio exercises are referred to any exercises that raise one’s heart rate.
The most typical forms of cardio exercises are running, Zumba, and swimming. Cardio is most effective for weight loss. These exercises help in increasing one’s metabolism. Metabolism is referred to as chemical reactions that take place inside one’s body, which balances the living state of cells and organisms.
Cardio exercises also strengthen a cardiovascular system which leads to more supply of oxygen to the cells that function in one’s muscles. Cardio exercises involve large muscle movements over a substantial period which keeps helps in increases one’s heart rate and results in more blood supply.
Adults must exercise for at least 150 minutes (moderate intensity) per week. You can increase the time-limit and the intensity of the workouts as you start building your stamina.
Any weight loss program for women includes cardio exercise in them. This is because cardio exercises when paired with weight training accelerates the weight loss process and helps in keeping the body toned and flexible.
Benefits of Cardio Exercises
One of the most known benefit of cardio exercise is weight loss. Other benefits of cardio are –
Cardio keeps your heart strong – Heart is a muscle and thus, exercising makes one’s heart strong. Cardio exercise increase one’s heart rate and help in keeping the heart healthy and improve its pumping. It also helps in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL).
Cardio helps in improving brain functions – It has been found that 20 minutes of exercising every day helps in improving one’s memory as well as the distribution of neurons (cells of the brain) in the brain.
It helps in improving metabolism – As mentioned above, cardio exercise increases metabolism. The more intense one’s cardio workouts are, the more their metabolic rate increases. Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions in one’s body which breaks down the nutrients acquired from food, which in turn helps in burning more calories Thus, higher the metabolism, more the calories burned.
It helps in fighting diabetes – It increases the utilization of glucose in one’s body. It also helps in keeping blood sugar levels in control. People who exercise regularly don’t experience as many blood sugar swings as those who are inactive. Thus, cardio exercise can be especially beneficial to people who suffer from diabetes.
It helps in building stamina – One needs stamina to do intense workouts and being active the entire day. Cardio exercises are important because they help in building one’s stamina, which ultimately leads the person to engage in other activities and increase their productivity.
It helps in reducing stress, fatigue, and anxiety – Stress is an epidemic today. Cardio exercise release endorphins (the feel-good hormones) that help in reducing stress. It also helps in reducing the symptoms of fatigue, and anxiety.
It helps in alleviating depression – 16 weeks of regular exercise helps in reducing the symptoms of depression and the mood swings that accompany it.
Cardio increases bone density – Regular cardio for over a period of 5 months can increase one’s bone density by 12%.
Other benefits of cardio are that they help in improving sleep quality, improve concentration, and prevent high blood pressure.
Types of cardio exercise
Aerobic exercises range from running on a treadmill to jumping jacks. If one is new to exercising (beginner), they must start with cardio as they are familiar and relatively easier to do.
NOTE: Before starting your workout, it is important to stretch (warm-up) before. Warm-up helps in keeping your body movements flexible and building stamina. Warm-up also prepares one’s body for exercising. Do this quick warm-up routine before beginning a workout; (a) march on the spot for 30 seconds, (without moving forward) (b) do jumping jacks for 30 seconds, (c) arm circles for 30 seconds, (d) squats for 30 seconds, and (e) alternate lunges for 30 seconds. Repeat this one more time. This warm-up is a must even if you’re going for a swim or a run. After this warm up, you’re ready to perform any of the following workouts;
If you prefer working out at home, you can do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). In HIIT workouts, one is active for a minute and then takes a break for 30 seconds, and so on. In the following HIIT workout, each exercise must be done for one minute followed by 30 seconds rest. If you’re a beginner, perform the exercise for 45 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat the entire workout 3 times if you’re a beginner and 5 times if you’re advanced.
|Push-ups||Lay down with your face, palms, and toes facing down. Keep your legs and back straight, extend your arms to your side and press your palms down on the floor. Slowly, push your body up and push it down again.|
|Squats||Stand with your knees and shoulders width apart. Then lower yourself by bending your knees until they form a right angle and then stand back up with your knees slightly bent.|
|Butt-kicks||Stand with your legs width apart. Place your hands on your sides. Move your right knee and kick your right heel toward your glutes. Bring the right foot back down and repeat the same with your left leg. Increase the speed as and when you’re comfortable.|
|Sit ups||Lay flat on your back, keeping your back straight. Lift your body up with the help of your core (stomach) to a sitting position.|
|Jumping jacks||Stand with your feet together and knees slightly bent, and arms on your side. Jump while raising your arms by your side and separate your legs. Land your feet with your legs separated and arms by your side. Repeat this for 15 to 20 times.|
|Plank||Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows aligned below your shoulders. Make sure that your arms are parallel to your body at shoulder-width distance. Slowly pull your body up, balancing your entire weight on your arms and your core. Maintain this position for as long as you can.|
|Triceps dips||Sit down comfortable on a floor with a chair or a bench behind you. Position your hands shoulder-width apart on the secured bench or chair. Slowly, move your body upward, balancing your weight on your arms and your legs. Straighten your arms and maintain the position for a while. You can also push your body down and up again if your arms get too tensed.|
Do a cool down after the workout so that your body is completely relaxed.
2. Gym Cardio Workout
If you’re going to the gym, you can do a cardio treadmill workout.
For warm up, walk at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes.
Then, for walking routine (routine refers to doing an action in a proper sequence), increase the speed, and walk fast for 2 minutes. The intensity should be higher than normal walking but not as fast as running.
After the walking routine, of two minutes, increase the speed and run for another 2 minutes. The speed should be high, but not so high that you get tired and exhausted after just running one time.
Now, repeat this walking and running routine for at least 30 minutes for maximum results.
Before leaving the gym, cool down by walking on a slow speed, and regaining your breath.
You can also replace this treadmill workout with elliptical or cycling workout, with 2 minutes of low intensity and 2 minutes of high intensity for 30 minutes.
3. Jumping rope
Jumping rope is an excessive calorie burner. It is popularly known as ‘skipping’. One hour of jumping rope burns over 1000 calories. However, one can start with 20 minutes of jumping rope and then build on their stamina. Before starting this workout, do the above-mentioned warm-up to avoid any injuries.
Note: One can do the jumping rope workout in the gym as well as at home.
4. Jumping rope HIIT Workout
One can also do a HIIT jumping rope workout. If you’re looking for instant weight loss results, this workout will prove to be beneficial for you. After the warm-up, do the below mentioned workout. If you’re a beginner, repeat the workout 3 times. If you’re advanced, follow the routine 5 times.
Jump rope for 30 seconds.
30 seconds rest.
Plank for 30 seconds.
15 seconds rest.
Jump rope for 30 seconds.
30 seconds rest.
Squats for 30 seconds.
15 seconds rest.
Jump rope for 30 seconds.
30 seconds rest.
30 seconds plank.
15 seconds rest.
Jump rope for 30 seconds.
COOL DOWN or STRETCH.
5. Brisk Walking
Brisk walking is another example of cardio which burns around 250 to 300 calories per hour. For moderate intensity, aim to take 100 steps per minute while walking.
Zumba refers to a form of aerobic exercise. It involves dance in combination with aerobic exercises such as; jumping jacks, planks, and lunges. Zumba workouts burns up to 650 to 700 calories per hour. It is one of the most common forms of cardio exercise. However, it is not advisable to do Zumba every day. One can do 30 minutes of Zumba 4 times a week. One can also do 1 hour of intense Zumba 3 times a week.
7. At Home Cardio Workout
If you’re comfortable working out at home, you can do this apartment friendly cardio workout. Before beginning this workout, it is essential to do the above-mentioned warmup.
|Rocket Jumps||3 sets with 15 to 20 reps||Stand with your knees bent and your hands on your knees. Then, jump lifting your hands straight above your head. Land carefully on your feet and repeat.|
|Jumping Jacks||3 sets with 15 to 20 reps||Stand with your feet together and knees slightly bent, and arms on your side. Jump while raising your arms by your side and separate your legs. Land your feet with your legs separated and arms by your side. Repeat this for 15 to 20 times.|
|Squats||3 sets with 10 to 15 reps||Stand with your knees and shoulders width apart. Then lower yourself by bending your knees until they form a right angle and then stand back up with your knees slightly bent. Repeat.|
|Jumping Jacks||3 sets with 15 to 20 reps||As given above|
|Burpees||2 sets with 10 to 20 reps||Burpees involve full body movement and work the core, legs, arms and the back. To do a burpee; (a) Stand with your knees and shoulders width-apart; (b) bend into a squat and place your hands on the floor, in front of your knees; (c) jump your knees back so that your body is in a plank position; (d) do a push-up and then jump your knees back into the squat position; (e) Jump straight up raising your hands over the head. Repeat the entire exercise again.|
NOTE: After the completion of any exercises mentioned above, it is necessary for you to cool down properly. For cool down;
(a) March on the spot for 30 seconds
(b) For stretching your thighs, legs and hip flexors; position yourself with one leg forward and resting on the knee of the back leg, slowly push your hips downward and forward for 30 seconds. Repeat the same for the other leg.
(c) Do arm circles for 30 seconds.
(d) Bend down stretching your back and your core for 30 seconds. Repeat this routine one more time for your body to completely relax.
Since aerobic exercises are fast paced, it is important to do them correctly to avoid injuries. Below are some safety precautions one must take while exercising:
Stretching – It is important to stretch before and after exercising. Stretching before exercising loosens up the body and the muscles so that they can be moved effortlessly and are more flexible during the exercising periods. Stretching after the routine helps in cooling down the body and relaxing the muscles.
Recovery time – It is important to give your body some recovery time between different exercises. This recovery time can be between 15 to 20 seconds.
Keep a track of your dietary habits – Exercising helps in shredding off excess fat in the body. However, one must also be mindful of their eating habits. It is advisable to not exercise after finishing a meal for the next 90 minutes. If one exercises right after eating, they may be affected by an acid reflux or nausea.
Safety equipment – It is important to wear appropriate clothes and wear sports shoes while exercising. If you’re running, it is important to wear leg pads and appropriate shoes that will not harm your knees. If you’re cycling, it is important to wear a helmet to prevent injuries.
Start slow – If you’re new to cardio or are exercising after a while, it is important that you start with low intensity and proceed accordingly. It is necessary to give your body some time to build its stamina and strengthen the muscles for you to move to high intensity workouts.
Be hydrated – One must stay hydrated during the day and while exercising to avoid fatigue and nausea. It is advisable to have a water bottle next to you and take water-breaks between exercising.
Weather conditions – It is not advisable to exercise in extremely hot weathers as it can cause dehydration and fatigue. Do low intensity workouts when it’s too hot or too cold so that the body can adjust to the weather conditions.
Is cardio better than weight training for weight loss?
If your goal is purely weight loss, then cardio is a good choice. However, if one wants to increase their muscle strength then weight training should be chosen. Overall, cardio burns more calories than weight training. One should, however, maintain a balance between both – cardio and weight training for a healthy physique.
Should one do weights first or cardio?
Doing cardio after weights is better than doing cardio before weights. This is because weightlifting does not deplete your glycogen deposits (stamina) as much as cardio. Hence, if you do cardio first, you will be tired by the time you get to weight training. The best way to tackle this situation is to do only cardio for three days and only weight training for three days a week.
Is doing cardio enough for losing belly fat?
Belly fat depends on factors such as; stress, pregnancy and other health issues like diabetes or hypothyroidism. Doing cardio alone cannot give one a flat stomach. One must also keep a track of their eating and sleeping patterns. If one is constantly eating processed food, is worrying, and is lazy throughout the day, doing one hour of cardio cannot help them in losing belly fat. Thus, one must adhere to a disciplined lifestyle accompanied by cardio exercise to see the results.
How often should one do aerobic exercises?
There are two basic recommendations for cardio exercise – The first one is that one must do 30 minutes of cardio (moderate intensity) for 5 times a week. The second recommendation suggests that one can do 20 minutes of intense cardio 3 times week. If you’re just beginning to exercise, make it a point to exercise 120 minutes per week.
Should one do high intensity or low intensity workouts for weight loss?
The ability to burn calories depends on one’s fitness level, capabilities, and their fat-to-muscle ratio. A higher intensity of cardio does burn more calories, however, if one is not physically comfortable or strong to do high intensity workouts, it can lead to more harm than good. It is better to start off with low intensity and then progress to higher intensity.
Can one do cardio in the morning with an empty stomach?
According to science, doing cardio with an empty stomach will lead to more weight loss. However, this can lead to the reduction of lean muscles, which may lead to weakness and fatigue. This can lead to diminished performance as well. Hence, it is not advisable to workout with an empty stomach.
Is cardio better in the morning or in the evening?
There is no perfect time to do cardio; some people prefer working out in the morning while some people prefer it in the evening. Thus, one can choose whatever time they are most comfortable working out.