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Cardio... Is it Overrated?

Although cardio may not be the most popular of exercise types, getting your heart pumping is an essential facet of a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re embarking on a health and wellness journey, cardio is a necessity for a healthy heart, mind, and body. Developing muscular tone and definition is not just a bi-product of strength training, but a combination of gaining muscle and losing fat. These results can be accomplished through cardiovascular exercise performed on a regular basis.

On top of burning fat, cardio exercise can assist in the creation of sufficient muscular strength, depending on the exercise. Swimming is known to help strengthen the upper body, while running helps strengthen and define muscles in the lower body.

What You Need to Know About Cardio

Cardiovascular exercises are those that increase an individual's heart rate for an extended period of time. Cardio exercises are also known as aerobic activities, which increase heart rate, and range from low to high intensity.

Cardio based workouts are designed to burn calories and fat, while building strength and developing muscular tone throughout the body.

How Much Cardio Should You Be Doing?

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, a certain amount of cardiovascular exercise should be completed each week to keep your heart, body, and mind healthy.

According to the guidelines developed by the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderately intense cardio exercise per week. You can meet these recommendations by performing 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days per week, or 20 to 60 minutes of high-intensity exercise 3 days per week.

If you’re just starting a regular cardio routine, start small, and gradually develop the length and intensity of your workouts over time to prevent any injuries, and to ensure you truly enjoy your cardio time.

Training Options

Luckily, cardiovascular exercises offer an extensive range of activities you can perform to meet your weekly goals:

Interval Training: Interval training consists of quick 60 to 90 second bursts of high-intensity exercises, with short, intermittent breaks. Sprinting at full speed, followed by a period of walking, is an example of efficient interval training.

Cardio Circuit Training: Cardio circuit training (CCT) uses a wide range of exercises, targeting all sections of the body (upper, middle, and lower). An individual chooses a couple of exercises that target each section, and perform them in a continuous pattern to keep the heart rate elevated throughout the exercise session. Ideally, cardio circuit training is performed for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week.

Endurance Training: Endurance training is any cardiovascular exercise that keeps the heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. Whether it’s running, swimming, cycling, dancing, or any other activity that gets your heart pumping, increasing your endurance occurs over time with regular practice and increased time periods of exercise.

A complete and successful exercise regime requires cardio exercise to maintain a healthy heart, and healthy body. By finding the type of cardio training that works for you, you’ll be more apt to stay focused on your goals, and follow through with your scheduled exercises. Try out different areas of cardiovascular training, and find out what you most enjoy.