Cardiovascular exercise is any type of physical activity that requires the heart and lungs to work overtime in order to meet the body’s increased demand for oxygen. Cardio, as it is more commonly known, increases the breathing rate, raises heart rate, and helps to improve lung function. In order to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise 3 days a week. To achieve this baseline, one may choose to include running, cycling, swimming, rowing, or hiking in their exercise regimen.
In an attempt to achieve healthy cardiovascular function and a desired bodyweight or composition, many individuals hop on a piece of cardio equipment at their local fitness facility. Once the treadmill gets going, people mindlessly trudge along for 30 to 60 minutes in hopes of sheading of few pounds or burning off the previous night’s happy hour. Although they have the correct intention behind their efforts, there are better techniques for burning fat and calories during cardio exercise. Even if you are not a “runner” or endurance athlete, cardiovascular exercise should still be a component of your training program. You do not have to log 5 mile runs or pound out 45 minutes on the trail to improve your stamina, endurance, or calorie burn.
Considering the Options
When it comes to doing “cardio” our mind jumps to thoughts of a treadmill, elliptical, or running track. You lace up your shoes, put one foot in front of the other, and “run” until you are forced to walk. You make it back to your house or car dehydrated, and wake up the next day with knee and back pain. Sounds like fun, right? This scenario might explain why most people choose to neglect cardiovascular exercise, opting instead for an elliptical with a television attached. Fortunately, there are far more effective, efficient, and enjoyable ways of getting your cardio in.
Steady State Cardio
For the sake of this guide, we will define steady state cardio as running at a steady pace or heart rate over an extended period of time or distance. This is what we typically call running or jogging. Your body and its energy systems are being challenged, but you are not pushing yourself to exhaustion. It is likely that you are able to carry on a conversation and control your breathing and heart rate at this intensity.
An interval cardio session features exercise conducted at varied intensities over time or distance. This can include working at or near maximum output to fatigue the muscles and lungs; then allowing for a period of rest or lower intensity exercise before returning to an increased or maximum intensity. during an interval session, you are attempting to push yourself beyond the intensity of a steady state run. Here, your heart rate will be elevated, breathing will be irregular, and your running form may break down.
While cardiovascular training is an important part of health and fitness, it is important not to neglect strength training and healthy eating. You will never achieve your desired body composition or fitness level if you are not challenging your body with resistance training of some kind. Additionally, all of your workouts, be it strength or cardio, will be for not if you are not making an effort to eat real, nutrient rich foods while avoiding prepackaged, additive laden alternatives. We hope you enjoyed our guide to fat burning cardio! If you have any questions please fill our the contact form.
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