Chances are you’re either a cardio person, or you’re not. Maybe you walk into the gym and head straight to the weight area, avoiding a glance in the direction of the treadmills, bikes and ellipticals like they might burn your retinas [like I used to], or you’re the complete opposite and you smooth talk your way to the front of the line to get your favorite Arc Trainer. No matter which you are, you’ve got things figured out 50% of the way, which is a great place to start!
Remember, just like food, there is a balance to exercise too. I’ll risk stating the obvious by saying that the key to the most beneficial fitness routines include both aerobic exercise and some form of strength training.
I actually just heard some of your eyes roll.
Real quick. Cardiovascular exercise is actually any exercise that raises your heart rate - so that doesn't mean being stuck to a stationary bike for 60 minutes a day. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, per week. That’s 21 minutes of doing something that elevates your heart rate each day of the week, or 25 minutes of doing something slightly more intense only 3 days a week. *In order to reap the benefits, you need a minimum of 20 continuous minutes with your heart rate elevated* So, take your favorite activity - whether that be spinning, walking, dancing, resistance training - whatever - and do it for at least 20 minutes! If you’re scratching your head wondering how to make resistance training into a “cardio” activity, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a bit about cardiovascular health, and how the body benefits from regular cardiovascular exercise.
Improves Heart Health & Strengthens Heart/Lungs
Increases Endorphins aka Uplifts Moods & Eases Depression
Increases Energy & Exercise Tolerance
Decreases Risk of Chronic Disease & Blood Pressure
Improves Sleep Quality
Help Manages Diabetes & Cholesterol
Improves Self Confidence
Yes, many people hear cardio and assume weight loss, which isn’t necessarily untrue, but they’re missing the importance of how this type of exercise affects their internal health, more importantly their cardiovascular system. We want you to be able to take your grandchildren on walks without being winded, we want you to be able to climb those flights of stairs without the feeling of fire in your lungs, and we want you to live to a ripe old age without experiencing strokes, heart attacks or valve replacements!
The thing is, many people actually forget about those benefits to your heart, lungs and blood vessels because they’re so focused on shedding extra pounds. Can you lose weight doing cardio? Absolutely. But at some point your body is going to make adaptations and cardio isn’t going to be enough. Think of cardio exercise as ketchup. You can put ketchup on so many things to make it better, but, you wouldn’t only eat ketchup. I mean, you could, I guess, but I hope you won’t. Yes, you could live off of it, but you’d be missing the major benefits of a proper meal [aka resistance training] - not to mention just ketchup would get pretty monotonous don’t you think? Cardio is the same way, it’s a great addition to other types of workouts, but it shouldn’t be your sole source of exercise.
Here’s a few things that you miss when you aren’t using strength training to help develop the musculoskeletal system.
1. You’ll Lose Muscle Mass
Use it or lose it. As we age, each decade we lose approximately 3-5% of our lean body mass [our muscle] through sarcopenia. Strength training helps to keep our muscles healthy and strong and you can gain strength without ‘bulk.’
2. You’ll Burn Less Fat
The more muscle we have, the higher our calorie burning capabilities are. Strength training helps increase our resting metabolic rate [the number of calories we burn at rest]. With resistance training, you burn calories both during the workout and after the workout is over. With aerobic exercise, you are only burning during the workout. You will also notice a change in your body composition - feeling firmer, clothes fitting differently, etc.
3. You Won’t Fight Osteoporosis
To have stronger bones you need more than just milk. You need to stress the bones in order to increase your bone density.
4. Your Risk of Injury May Increase
Resistance training engages both muscles and our brain to improve body mechanics such as coordination, posture and balance [decreasing your risk of falling or other injury]. Many people also experience less joint pain, back pain and arthritic symptoms with a regular strength training routine.
Your muscles and your bones need to be strengthened the same way your heart and lungs do, and the easiest way to do that is by strength training. Strength training encompasses different modalities, so if using free weights is too intimidating *you should definitely consider working with a personal trainer* you can use just your body weight, rubber tubing, or weight machines. Working with a professional can help you determine an appropriate cardio & resistance training program to match your goals - whether that be body composition, heart health, general fitness, etc.