Cardiovascular exercise, cardio, or aerobic exercise is often the first form of exercise that people turn to when they decide to get fit. Put simply, the benefits of cardio arrive from any activity that makes your heart and lungs work harder than when they are at rest.
Benefits of cardio.
- You burn calories.
- It strengthens your heart which enables your body to deliver blood and oxygen to your organs and tissues more efficiently.
- A stronger heart means you’re less likely to suffer from heart attack, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Increased lung capacity for greater endurance.
- Your body will create hormones that make you feel good.
- You will feel less stress.
- You will sleep better at night.
There are many activities that you can do for cardio, however, having several things that you like to do (variety) and actually enjoying those activities are really important. You will have an easier time finding motivation to workout and sticking to an exercise routine when you do things that you enjoy, and that is more important than choosing an activity based on results alone.
Different cardio activities.
- Jump Rope
- Stationary Bike
- Rowing Machines
- Anything Else That Gets Your Heart-rate Up!
2 different types of cardio.
- Endurance cardio is maintaining an increased heart rate for an extended amount of time. Generally, you’ll want to do this exercise for 30-60 minutes with an ideal target heart rate of about 60-70 percent of your max. Running is the exercise that you might typically think of but any of the above mentioned activities could be done this way.
- Interval cardio,or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the other type in which you elevate your heart rate in short bursts up to 85 percent of your max followed by brief periods of rest and then elevating your heart rate again. Sprinting and calisthenic work are types of activities that may come to mind here, but any of the above activities could also be done this way as well.
My article Cardio Workouts: Elliptical Trainer, Spin Bike, Treadmill will give you some ideas of using different settings with that equipment.
When is the best time to do cardio?
This question gets asked a lot. Research and conventional wisdom show that cardio is somewhat more effective on an empty stomach. Therefore, morning would seem to answer this since your stomach is usually totally empty in the morning after you haven’t eaten in 8 or so hours. The energy that you spend comes right from the stored fat in your body and not from the breakfast or lunch in your belly.
However, there is more to it than this. The extra benefit that you get from doing cardio on an empty stomach is not so substantial that it makes cardio at any other time less effective.
The truth is that the best time to do cardio is any time that you can fit it into your day!
Just do the exercise. It doesn’t really matter when you work out just as long as you do it. If you’re looking at the big picture, you’re going to get the best results by sticking to a solid routine more than worrying about what time of day gives the best results. This is particularly true if being fit is not yet a lifestyle but something you are just getting into or working on. Don’t get all caught up in confusing minor details like this. As that famous shoe company’s tagline states, JUST DO IT!