Updated: Aug 24
We all know that cardio exercises are good for us. They help us lose weight, boost our mood, and improve our overall health. Yet, so many of us still skip cardio day or worse - avoid it altogether. But unfortunately, skipping cardio day could be a big mistake. Beneficial for its ability to burn calories, improve the health of your heart, lungs and even help you live longer, cardio should be scheduled into everyone’s fitness regime. In this article, we talk about the benefits of cardio, hopefully motivating you to pop on your running shoes and hit the pavement running!
What is cardio?
We all talk about cardio and in general terms, we know what it is. It makes you breathe heavily, it increase your heart rate, and you achieve it through running, cycling or similar endurance exercises. But what exactly is cardio?
In simple terms, cardio, - short for cardiovascular exercise - is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate and breathing rate. It's also known as aerobic exercise. Some common forms of cardio include running, cycling, swimming, dancing, and brisk walking.
Longer (more scientific) answer:
Cardiovascular exercise is known to stimulate and challenge both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems in the body, leading to a boosted ability of the heart to pump blood and the lungs and heart to circulate oxygen throughout the body. Through periods of moderate to high intensity exercise that triggers a stress response in the body, the heart and lungs respond by adapting to the challenge. In turn, your body will increase its efficiency in oxygen utilisation and blood flow.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week for adults.
The unmatched benefits of cardio workouts
However, as a result of its relatively time consuming nature, the feeling of exhaustion it can bring and with a reputation of providing slow results, many people tend to skip cardio exercises, heading straight for the weights or perhaps the yoga studio. The truth is, cardio is very important for promoting overall health and well-being.
Here are some rock-solid benefits of cardio workouts and some reasons you should lace up those sneakers and get a little cardio action.
1. Cardio helps you burn calories
One of the reasons many people start introducing cardio exercises into their routines is to start maintaining or losing weight. Cardiovascular exercises are highly effective in promoting weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
When you engage in cardio exercises, your body burns calories, which can create an calorie deficit. In turn, you will lose weight. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, cardio exercises can help you maintain a healthy weight by burning off excess calories that might otherwise lead to weight gain.
Cardio exercise can be especially beneficial if you have a sedentary job or a lifestyle that limits your physical activity in any way. Adding a few quick jogs or bike rides into your week could prove very beneficial in the long run.
2. Cardio elevates your mental health
As we move into 2023, it's clear that mental health is more important than ever before; looking after our own mental health is key to a successful and happy life. Shown to have a positive impact on mental health, cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming can help us do just this.
Studies have shown that cardio can decrease stress and anxiety, and even alleviate symptoms of depression. These positive effects are attributed to the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain that are triggered by physical activity. These magical endorphins make for a natural way to boost mood and reduce the perception of pain.
But in addition to endorphins, cardio can also stimulate the production of other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood and emotions.
Next time you need a little boost for both your body and mind, why not lace up those sneakers and head out for a jog or brisk walk?
3. Cardio improves your sleep
Getting a good night's sleep is essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many people struggle with getting adequate rest, which can negatively impact their productivity, mood, and overall health.
The good news is that regular exercise, particularly cardio, can help improve the quality of your sleep. Incorporating regular cardio workouts into your routine can lead to significant improvements in sleep quality. Not only can it help you fall asleep faster, but it can also help you stay asleep longer, which can result in feeling more rested and alert during the following day.
To maximise the benefits of cardio on your sleep, it's best to schedule your workouts earlier in the day - ideally several hours before bedtime. Exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect and make it harder for you to fall asleep at all.
4. Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs
Cardio exercises are also hugely beneficial to your cardiovascular health. Strengthening your heart and lungs these exercises enhance the efficiency of your circulatory system, allowing for improved oxygen delivery to the rest of your body. As a result, you may notice a reduction in your heart rate and blood pressure as you start to integrate cardio into your routine.
Additionally, by regularly engaging in cardio exercises, you may lower your risk of developing heart disease by improving your heart's ability to pump blood effectively.
Cardio exercises can be performed in many forms such as jogging, swimming, cycling, or even brisk walking. Aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes of cardio activity into your daily routine to reap the full benefits.
Regularly performing cardio exercises can lead to improved cardiovascular health, increased physical endurance, and a lower risk of heart disease.
5. Cardio can help you live longer
If there’s ever a good reason to go for a run, it’s this one. Regular cardiovascular exercise can have a significant impact on your longevity by helping to mitigate the risk of developing chronic diseases and improving your overall health.
Engaging in consistent cardio activities can help lower the likelihood of contracting conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer, which can ultimately lead to an increased life expectancy.
What’s more, regular exercise can help to strengthen your cardiovascular system, leading to lower blood pressure and increased blood flow. This can result in a greater ability to perform everyday activities and a higher level of endurance during physical exertion.
CreGAAtine for cardio and endurance
Skipping cardio day probably isn't a great move. Keep up with that cardio routine; your body (and mind) will thank you for it.
Working on your endurance? Consider integrating CreGAAtine into your diet. Known to improve both upper and lower body muscle endurance, CreGAAtine could be a great addition to your lifestyle.