Why cardio counts!

2013Feb26_Cardio_AThink back, if you can, to the days of legwarmers, leotards and the complexity that was the archetypal aerobics class - complicated dance moves taking you to the point of crashing and burning exhaustion. These were the days when all most people knew about fitness is that if you want to be healthy you need cardio. While fitness trends have evolved and changed, cardio is ever-present but how much do you actually understand it?

Could you give a good definition of cardio? Why is it important? And, what exercises or workouts involve cardio? The world of health and fitness has never been as exciting, varied and progressive as it is in 2013. However, it's worth not forgetting some of the basics of exercise which will never go out of fashion or favor.

What is cardio?
Cardio is short for cardiovascular, and is exercise that benefits a healthy heart system as well as your respiratory functions. In essence, cardio, or aerobic exercise is when you raise your heart rate is raised above normal and maintained over a certain period of time. On a basic level, if you're feeling the pace and you're breaking out in a sweat then you're more likely than not working out at an aerobic level.

What is the cardio heart rate?
Many wear heart rate monitors so that they monitor as they exercise, which is vital in working out at the right intensity. With your heart rate monitor you can aim for different levels of cardio. Most people use a monitor by calculating their Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), a rough approximation is: 220 - your age. From there they aim for different levels of intensity.

  • Low intensity is 60-70% of your MHR
  • Moderate intensity which will tone and aid weight loss is 70-80%
  • High intensity - a real fat burner is 80-90%
  • Maximum - for short bursts such as interval training is 90-100%

Why is cardo important?
Many fitness professionals advocate cardio work with other forms of exercise that perhaps focus more on building and toning muscles. However, aerobic workouts will definitely yield some great results:

  • Strengthen heart & lungs
  • Improve body's ability to maintain health
  • Burn fat and help you lose weight
  • Boost metabolism
  • Reduce stress
  • Release energy

What exercises are cardio?
A a general rule of thumb, if your routine is more focused on stretching the less likely it is to incorporate cardio. There are some great ways to get your heart rate high:

  • Fitness class - aerobics, step, dance fitness
  • Treadmill
  • Ellipticls
  • Rowing machine
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • BOSU
  • PX90
  • TRX Suspension Training
  • Jump rope

Numerous reasons exist as to why cardio should count in your life, and many ways in which you can raise the intensity and the tempo of your exercise routine. Check your workout intensity and make sure you're working at a comfortable, optimal pace. Don't be afraid to work up a sweat, there's nothing as exhilarating as a good exercise session!

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

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