Cardio training: What it is and 12 health benefits

When we think of cardio training , we usually only think of the heart and its cardiovascular components. However, this type of training also strengthens the respiratory and muscular systems.

We therefore need to incorporate cardio into our fitness routines to combine all 3 systems to effectively deliver oxygen and other essential nutrients throughout the body.

In addition, cardio excels at burning excess calories and, therefore, breaking down body fat.

But before going any further, let's try to define what cardio training is…

What is cardio training?

Sometimes called aerobic exercise or session aerobics, cardio is a rhythmic activity that increases your heart rate in your target heart rate zone. The oldest among you remember Véronique and Davina (To to yo toy 😅). This is the zone where you burn the most fat and calories.

Some of the more common examples include power walking or Nordic walking, running, stationary or road cycling, spin bike, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, treadmill, and swimming.

However, even household chores like vacuuming and chopping wood can be considered cardio exercises 😅

Part of what sets cardio apart from other types of sports such as weight training (unless it's in the form of HIIT) is that it relies on your body's ability to use oxygen during the session. training. A person's cardio capacity can vary depending on a number of factors.

A study published by the American Heart Association reports that genetics has a 20-40 % influence on what you can do when it comes to cardio. Also, women tend to have 25 TP2T less cardio capacity than men and this capacity tends to decrease with age regardless of your gender.

That doesn't mean your genes, gender, or age will keep you from improving your cardiovascular health. But it is useful to know that there are many factors that can influence how the body reacts to cardio training.

Discover the benefits of cardio-training exercises right away…

12 benefits of cardio training

cardio training at home

There are very few activities you can do in short sessions that have so many physical and mental health benefits. Some of the known benefits of a cardio session include the following 12 points:

1. Improved cardiovascular health

Aerobic exercise is recommended by most doctors for people with or at risk of heart disease. This is because exercise strengthens your heart muscle and helps it pump blood more efficiently throughout the body.

Core training can also help lower blood pressure and keep your arteries clear by raising “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. in the blood.

If you're specifically looking to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, aim for 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week.

NOTE : If you have a medical history, make an appointment with a specialist to assess what you can reasonably do.

2. Cardio is good for blood pressure

Cardiovascular exercise can help you manage the symptoms of high blood pressure because it lowers the tension.

Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger, which means it can pump more blood with less effort. As a result, the pressure in your arteries decreases.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Normal blood pressure is below 120 mmHg for the top number (systolic) and below 80 mmHg for the bottom number (diastolic). Becoming more active can lower both your upper and lower numbers. Studies show reductions on the order of 4 to 12 mmHg diastolic and 3 to 6 mmHg systolic.

Regular exercise also helps you reach and maintain your ideal weight, which is also another important way to control blood pressure. If you are overweight, weight loss can lower it.

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To keep it at a good level, you must continue to exercise regularly. It takes about 1 to 3 months for regular exercise to have an impact on your blood pressure. The benefits only last as long as you continue to do your sessions.

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3. Cardio Training Regulates Blood Sugar

cardio training and diabetes

Regular physical activity helps regulate insulin levels and to lower blood sugar, while keeping body weight under control. In study in english in people with type 2 diabetes, researchers have found that aerobic exercise has a positive effect in these areas.

NOTE : Of course, as always in the context of a pathology, it is advisable to take the advice of your attending physician if you suffer from diabetes.

4. Reduction of asthma symptoms

Aerobic exercise can help people with asthma reduce both the frequency and severity of attacks.

Moreover, I myself suffered from very many asthma attacks, sometimes very violent, until the end of my adolescence. The only sports I was able to practice without too much difficulty were then road cycling, then bodybuilding around the age of 16. I had to attack slowly to give my lungs time to adapt, but these workouts helped me a lot to control my breath and reduce my resting heart rate.

NOTE : You should speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine if you have asthma. They may recommend specific activities or precautions based on your current health status.

5. Reduce chronic pain

If you suffer from chronic back pain, cardiovascular exercises, especially low-impact activities, such as swimming, water aerobics or elliptical, contribute to back muscle strengthening and improve your endurance.

Also, exercise will help you lose weight, which helps reduce back and joint pain. Indeed, being overweight harms the joints of the ankles, knees, hips and the entire spine. Many pains are therefore due to extra pounds, and the loss of fat mass associated with appropriate cardiovascular training can work miracles for you.

NOTE : If you suffer from chronic pain, it is obvious that your primary objective is not to perform in sports. If you have osteoarthritis, a medical history, or need to lose weight, start slowly, taking into account your limits.

6. Cardio training and sleep quality

Sleep well if I want to lose weight

If you have trouble sleeping at night, try cardio activities during the day.

A study on people with sleep problems revealed that a regular exercise program helps fight insomnia.

Participants engaged in aerobic activity for 16 weeks and then completed questionnaires about their sleep and general mood. They noted better quality and duration of sleep, as well as improvements in their daytime vitality.

NOTE : Exercising too close to bedtime can make it harder to sleep. Try to finish your workout at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, especially if you're doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

7. Promotes Fat Loss

You may have heard that diet and exercise are the building blocks of weight loss. And cardio activities can really help you lose weight and maintain your ideal weight.

In one study, researchers asked overweight participants to stick to the same diet but engage in exercise sessions that burned 400 to 600 calories, 5 times a week, for 10 months.

The results showed significant weight loss, between 4.3 and 5.7 % of their starting weight, for both men and women. Most participants used treadmills for the majority of their exercise sessions.

The results could even have been better with an elliptical trainer. If you don't have access to cardio machines or an exercise bike, try Nordic walking at least 5 times a week, for example during your lunch break or before dinner.

Depending on your weight and speed, you may need to walk or run 6 km to burn 400-600 calories.

NOTE : Cutting calories in addition to aerobic exercise will have an even faster effect on the amount of weight lost. In addition, a food rebalancing is always an asset for good health.

8. Strengthens the immune system

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University examined active and sedentary women to see the impact of exercise on their immune systems.

All the women had their blood drawn at different times over the weeks.

The results showed that regular, moderate aerobic exercise increases certain antibodies in the blood called immunoglobulins. Which indicates a strengthening of the immune system. The sedentary group of women saw no improvement in immune system function and their cortisol levels were much higher than the active groups.

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Why you need to lower cortisol levels

Cortisol is useful in certain situations, such as in case of danger or during a sports session. On the other hand, having stress and a constantly high level of cortisol is bad in the long run.

The consequences can be:

  • Weakening of immune defenses
  • Sleep problems
  • Decline in performance
  • Concentration problems and memory loss
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Concentration problems and memory loss
  • Overweight and difficulty losing weight
  • General tiredness

NOTE : Exercising regularly lowers cortisol levels, which will boost your immune system. However, it is necessary to avoid overtraining which can cause the opposite effect.

9. Increases intellectual abilities

Did you know that the brain begins to lose tissue after the age of 30? Researchers have found that aerobic exercise reduces this loss and improves cognitive performance.

To test this theory, 55 adult people underwent an MRI to assess them. The participants were then screened to assess their health, including their aerobic capacity. Fitter adults showed fewer reductions in the frontal, parietal, and temporal areas of the brain. Overall, their brain tissue was stronger.

What does that mean ? that physical exercise good for body and brain. So, if you want to perform better at Scrabble, play sports 😅

10. Cardio training improves mood

cardio and depression

Moving your body can also improve your mood. In a study of people with depression, participants did 30-minute sessions. After 10 days of training, they were asked to report any changes in mood.

All participants reported a significant reduction in their symptoms of depression. These results suggest that exercising, even for a short time, can have a big impact on mood.

You don't need to do a lot of sessions to see improvement. The study results revealed that even one exercise session can be enough to give you a boost.

11. Cardio-respiratory training reduces the risk of falls

One in three people over the age of 65 fall each year. These accidents can lead to bone fractures and potentially create lifelong injuries or disabilities. Exercise can reduce this risk.

And if you're worried about being too old to start exercising, forget about it. The results of a study on women aged 72 to 87 revealed that aerobic exercise reduce the risk of falling promoting better balance and agility.

At the end of the study, women in the control group performed significantly better in tasks such as standing on one leg with their eyes closed. They also had more strength, which helps them avoid falls.

NOTE : Talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine and start slow. Group classes can be a great way to exercise safely. The coach will be able to tell you if you are performing the movements correctly and help you correct what is wrong

12. Safe for Most People

Cardiovascular exercise is recommended for most people, including the oldest or those with chronic health conditions. The key is to work with your doctor to find what works best for you and is safe in your particular situation.

Same children should do aerobic exercise regularly. In fact, the recommendations for children are slightly higher than for adults. Try to get your child moving for at least 60 minutes every day.

How to choose your cardio workout

elliptical trainer for cardio training

Once you understand the importance of moving regularly for your health, you need to choose the cardio workout that's right for you and the type of activities that you like. Think about what matches your personality and what you would feel comfortable incorporating into your weekly schedule. This is essential, because if you don't like exercise, you're less likely to stick with it in the long run.

If you like to go out for running, cycling and Nordic walking, these are very good choices. If you prefer to ride an exercise bike or elliptical, spin bike, treadmill or rower, whether at home or at the gym, that will work too. If you like the swimming pool and can go there 4 or 5 times a week, that's good!

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In short, you have understood it, make the best possible choice from the start to stick to it without too much difficulty.

Do cardio at home

Want to increase your heart rate at home? You can do a lot of things like jump rope, mountain climbers, burpees, lunges, etc. The possibilities are endless as long as the intensity of the effort is sufficient to burn calories.

Another option is to purchase your own treadmill, rowing machine, or elliptical trainer.

You can also consider using:

  • Exercise DVDs (HIIT, Tabata, Zumba, Pilates, etc.)
  • fitness apps
  • Console games that get you moving like Ring Fit Adventure
  • Online workouts

You don't know yet what you like?

In this case, try several different activities to find the one you like the most. This process can be hit or miss, so don't be afraid to try something, and if it doesn't work, move on.

How long should a cardio workout last?

Health authorities recommend that most people get 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous training.

But you may need to start with less than that to get back into shape. 

If you're just starting out, it may seem less daunting to break up your workouts into chunks of 10 to 15 minutes. Increase your time by 5 minutes as it feels easier. Progress to sessions of 30 minutes or more when you're ready.

Frequency of cardio workouts

frequency of cardio sessions

The response to the frequency of cardio workouts depends on a number of factors. Among them are your fitness level, your schedule, and your goals.

If you are starting, focus on consistency first by aiming for 5 sessions per week, although you can't do more than 10-15 minutes at a time.

If you exercise regularly for years and you've focused more on building muscle than burning fat, cardio 3 times a week is more than enough.

When thinking about frequency, it is also important to consider intensity. Light to moderate intensity cardio workouts can usually be done every day without risk, although it's always best to stick to 5 sessions per week.

But if you do high intensity training, you will need a recovery phase between your workouts. So you can alternate a moderate session and an intense session, or do strength training one day, and HIIT another day.

Heart Rhythm Guidelines

The frequency of your workouts depends on your fitness level and your schedule.

The basic guidelines are:

  • If it's just for keep fit, try moderate cardio for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or intense cardio for 20 minutes, 3 days a week. You can also alternate the two.
  • For losing weight, you may need to do 30 mins (intense) to 60 mins (moderate) over 5 weekly sessions.
  • For stay in shape, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day is enough if your diet is balanced.

To learn more about the heart rate you should aim for, read this article.

NOTE : Doing too much cardio is not a good idea and can be counterproductive. Keep it reasonable by training 3-5 times a week depending on your fitness level. Vary the intensity and remember to keep recovery days.

I should point out, however, that a day of rest does not mean doing nothing. You can very well take a leisurely stroll or a short hike on a recovery day. 

Cardio training – Conclusion

If you're starting from scratch, speak with your doctor before returning to exercise. Make sure the exercise is safe for you. Also, listen to your body. If it tells you that you are doing too much, reduce the intensity, frequency or duration of your sessions.

Whatever you do, remember to keep your workouts simple. In the beginning, set a goal to do something every day at least 5 times a week, even if it's just 5 minutes of low-intensity walking. Try to do it at the same time every day and put it in your diary.

The more you practice, the easier it will be. Gradually increase the difficulty as you improve your heart rate or lung capacity.

Leave a message in the comments area below to tell me what you think or to ask your questions. THANK YOU !

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