Boost Your Cardio Level: What to Know

With so many new workout options arriving on the scene, it can be hard to keep up with the trends. But whatever the latest exercise fad, rest assured that cardio workouts will always be in fashion. Let’s take a look at the different types of cardio workouts and how they might benefit you.

Key takeaways:
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    A cardio workout is any kind of physical activity that gets your heart pumping faster for a prolonged period of time.
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    Cardio workouts are great for strengthening your body, improving your mood and burning fat.
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    From high to low-intensity, there are a wide variety of different cardio workouts to suit all ages and abilities.
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    You don’t have to be sprinting at top speed to be doing a cardio workout. Even brisk walking and dancing count.

What is a cardio workout?

A cardio workout is a type of physical exercise that gets your heart pumping faster for a prolonged period of time. It’s a form of aerobic exercise that stimulates and strengthens your cardiovascular system which comprises your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

You’ll know when you are in cardio workout mode because you’ll feel the way your respiratory system is working harder. Your breath will become deeper and faster, and you should break into a sweat after some time of physical exertion.

There are many different types of cardio workout, from circuit training, running, and HIIT exercises to hot vinyasa flow yoga. Cardio workouts can be high or low-intensity and vary in duration.

What are the main benefits of cardio workouts?

Aerobic exercise will stimulate your cardiovascular system, improving blood flow and strengthening the heart and lungs. You’ll also experience the mood enhancing endorphins, which are a group of hormones that naturally relieve pain and boost those happy feelings.

Regular exercise enhances muscular ability, making every day activities seem easier. And they say beauty is only skin deep, but did you know that having a circulatory system working at its best also leads to healthier, clearer skin?

Cardio workouts can improve overall well-being, benefiting brain and joint health too. Studies have shown that this type of exercise may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline no matter your age.

Check out the list below for some different types of cardio workouts and their benefits.

Running

Running is a great cardio workout and you can make it as high or low-intensity as you like, just by switching up your pace. It’s brilliant for the legs and core muscles and helps you to maintain a healthy weight. You can opt for a running machine at the gym, or fill your lungs with fresh air with a biophilia workout in the great outdoors.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an intense cardio workout that uses compound movements such as squats, burpees, and plank pose variations. Exercises are performed in short intervals at maximum physical exertion, followed by rest and repetition. Fans of HIIT love the fat-burning potential and claim you’ll get leaner and stronger faster than with other types of exercise.

Hot vinyasa flow yoga

This is not for the faint-hearted. You’ll be flowing fast through a series of standing, seated, and balancing yoga postures in a room heated to about 39°C. These classes can be found in most hot yoga studios and are definitely not for beginners. The benefits of regular practice are improved strength and flexibility, and many practitioners report glowing skin.

Jump rope

No longer confined to the schoolyard, this high-intensity cardio exercise is sure to get you giggling and burning lots of calories at the same time. You can jump rope at a gym, or in your backyard. It’s a cheap, easy, and fun way to do cardio. Don’t be disheartened if you aren’t as good as you remember from your school days, just keep your head up and keep jumping.

Power walking

This is a great way of getting your cardio sessions in if you’ve got joint issues or are recovering from an injury. It’s just like walking, but faster and with more athletic purposes. Bend your arms up at the elbow and move them in unison with your steps. To get that heart rate up you’ll have to go at a brisk pace for at least 20 minutes, so grab your sneakers and pound that sidewalk.

Dancing

Who would have thought that throwing shapes to your favorite tunes could burn up to 800 calories an hour? The cardio gains really depend on the intensity of your moves. The harder you dance the more you’ll reap the physical and mood-enhancing benefits. Anyone at any age can dance, so hit your favorite playlist and express yourself like no one's watching.

Swimming

This is a well-favored low-intensity form of cardio that’s great for full-body fitness. Swimming is particularly good if you need to be mindful of your joints. Practice makes perfect so start slowly and use swimming aids to build confidence in the water.

Will cardio workouts burn fat?

Because cardio workouts burn calories, you’ll be hitting those fat stores. But, you have to be consistent. One workout a week is not going to get rid of the excess fat you want to shed.

To effectively use cardio to get into the fat burning zone, go for a combination of high and low-intensity cardio workouts on alternate days.

Incorporate rest days in your routine to let your body recover. Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of lean protein, whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies.

Can cardio workouts build muscle?

Yes, they can. Despite many weight-lifters preferring to stay away from it, cardio doesn’t always result in muscle loss. While it’s true that a long distance well-paced run won’t build you those huge gains, there are a number of cardio workouts that can burn fat and build muscle.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises like sled pushes, and weighted squats and lunges are great for building lean muscle.

There is a seemingly endless list of benefits to cardio workouts, from mental health to physical well-being. You don’t need to be sprinting at breakneck speed, or doing 100 burpees in a row to be improving your physical fitness and uplifting your mood.

If you are new to cardio workouts, start with a low-intensity exercise and once you’ve built your strength and endurance, go for something more challenging.

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