Running, jogging, dancing, cycling, swimming, treadmill, and elliptical machine – these are all great examples of cardio activities to implement into your routine. I always also suggest that so many forms of cardio involve the leg muscles, you can also do boxing exercises which involve your upper body muscles and still use your cardiovascular system. (By the way, our bodies are similar to hybrid cars. We have two main ways our body makes energy to function and exercise – the anaerobic system, which we use during our resistance and weight bearing exercises, and the aerobic system, which we use during cardio. Using predominantly only one of the systems by, say, only doing cardio all the time, or only doing weightlifting, isn’t good to optimize your health. You should strive to balance both of these systems into your workout routines.)
The main benefit of cardio is, of course, burning calories to knock that pesky fat off of our midsections or elsewhere. But there are several other great benefits to doing cardio.
- Improved heart health
- Increase in the endorphin “feel good” hormones
- Diabetes management
- Less risk for many chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and obesity; coronary heart disease including stroke, kidney failure, and blindness; cancer; type II diabetes; osteoporosis; and deaths from all causes
- Improved endurance
- Reducing the effort required to carry out everyday activities
- Improved immune function
- Improved sleep
And participating in any kind of recreational sports provides the opportunity to socialize, have fun, and to strive to excel. It lessens anxiety, depression, stress, anger, and hostility, thereby improving mood and boosting cardiovascular health.