Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation.
For most people, when cardio is mentioned it's followed by a shake of the head or a strong "no". The important thing to remember is cardio is not only valuable for weight loss; but a wide variety of health benefits.
Improved Heart Health
Your heart is a muscle just like any other and in order for it to become strong it must be worked. If you don't train it, it will weaken over time which can cause a variety of negative health effects.
By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis you will keep it in shape and healthy. Getting tired from simply walking up the stairs, or walking around the shopping centre, is a sign of poor heart health and moving more is crucial.
Along with speeding up your heart rate, cardiovascular exercise also increases the rate of various other processes in the body, also known as your metabolism.
Generally speaking, the more intense the cardio session, the more noticeable increase you will see with regards to your metabolic rate. High Intensity Interval Training (also known as HIIT) increases the metabolism; the highest with a process called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). An increased metabolism means faster weight loss and the ability to maintain long term.
Improved Recovery Ability
If you have just performed a hard session in the gym, hopping on the treadmill for a walk will help to remove some of the by-products that were created during your weight session.
This will help to reduce your DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and help bring more oxygen rich blood to the muscle tissue improving in the repair and rebuilding process.
The more frequently you are able to work a muscle (assuming full recovery has been achieved) the faster you will add additional new muscle. Cardio helps you do this.
The important thing is to keep your body moving. Weight lifting, unless done in a circuit style fashion, would not be considered aerobic cardio exercise since you are not moving continuously. It would be anaerobic and would use a different energy system than that of cardio.
*Start off slowly. Once you are able to do 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week then step it up a notch and look at more intense training.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.