You hear people talking about cardio all the time. What exactly is cardio? Cardio exercise is a shorthand term for cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise. A cardio program involves sustainable activity that works up a sweat and pumps the blood through the body so that oxygen reaches the muscles as they exercise. A good cardio program will get your heart, lungs and muscles working well, and there are a number of health benefits to be obtained.
Cardio exercise helps to build bone density and also slow down the rate of deterioration in men and women. This helps to avoid the risk of osteoporosis in later life. It is not known how much cardio exercise is needed to acheive this health benefit, but most cardio sessions last for at least 30 minutes, so regular participation should help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Up to 250,00 deaths in America each year are attributed to lack of exercise, leading to cardiovascular disease. Leading a sedentary, inactive lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors for heart disease, the others being high blood pressure, obesity, raided blood lipid levels – that’s cholesterol and triglycerides – and smoking. The good news is that cardio exercise can address 4 of those 5 risk factors.
Cardio exercise helps prevent heart disease by regulating blood pressure and keeping blood vessels flexible. This reduces the risk of fat build up which can clog the blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis. Exercise boosts levels of ‘good’ HDL blood cholesterol and lowers levels of triglycerides, which helps the circulation system to maintain a constant supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. And if you exercise regularly, you’re no longer living a sedentary lifestyle.
After a person undergoes heart surgery, the first thing the hospital care team wants is to get the patient up and walking within 24 hours. This helps get the blood pumping through the heart and helps blood pressure.
Exercise – especially cardio exercise – burns calories. If you need to lose weight, or wish to maintain a healthy weight, exercise will help you to do so. The body burns more calories when exercising than when at rest, so regular cardio sessions can help you lose weight. Don’t forget that diet also plays a big part. The two biggest factors for any healthy lifestyle is healthy diet and exercise. Running 5 miles a day, but eating a high calorie diet, won’t help you lose weight.
Studies show that regular aerobic exercise can decrease the risk of some cancers by as much as 40%. Just 30 minutes to an hour of cardio exercise each day can acheive this risk mitigation, and the more exercise you do, the less the risk of developing cancer. Should you develop cancer despite, a regular cardio workout can help to reduce the depression and fatigue which often results from cancer treatment.
Exercise is a great mood lifter, as it releases endorphins into the bloodstream which help to develop a ‘feel good’ factor, as well as boosting brain power by improving the memory and increasing alertness. More importantly, regular exercise in middle age can help ward off the onset of dementia in later life. You might have heard of the “runner’s high”, which is that elevated mood after a good run or cardio activity. I suffer from anxiety and running definitely helps me keep it in check.
The benefits of a cardio exercise program influence all aspects of a lifestyle, and regular exercise can also help you live a longer, happier life. The good news is cardio exercise does not have to involve sweating it out at the gym. Brisk walking, swimming and even gardening and housework count as cardio exercise, so you can easily incorporate it into your daily routine. All you need to do is somewhat that elevates your heart rate. If you have an Apple Watch or other accessory that keeps track of your BPM (beats per minute) this is a great tool to use while doing cardio.
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