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Back to Basics: What is Cardio and Why You Should Do It

Recently, I was dispensing advice about exercise and weight loss, as I am in the habit of doing. I was talking about the benefits of cardio and the person asked me point blank, "What is cardio?" That question was the inspiration behind this post, because sometimes we need to get back to basics.

Cardio is the popular nickname for cardiovascular exercise which is any activity that raises your heart rate. Meaning exercise make your heart work harder than it does when you are just sitting on the couch. You might be familiar with the term aerobic exercise, and cardio is the same thing.

When doing cardio you want to reach your target heart rate, starting with a warm up (slowing bringing your heart rate up) and ending with a cool down (slowly bringing your heart rate down). If you are not sure of what your target heart rate should be check out the FitSugar Calculator. It will help you determine your exercise parameters and tell you how to find your heart rate.

There are many benefits to doing cardio including reducing your risk of diseases as well as burning extra calories to aid weight loss and maintenance. Recent studies have even indicated that cardio exercise is good for the brain as well as the lungs and heart.

To see how cardio compares to other forms of exercise, read this post: Exercise Explanation. If you are looking for cardio programs to follow, oh boy do I have a bunch for you. Check out these cardio routines - they include workouts with treadmills, elliptical machines, trampolines and swimming. There is a little something for everyone.

The easiest way to add cardio to your life is running - all you need is a pair of shoes and a plan. The Couch to 5K program is an excellent place to start.

Any questions? Ask them in the comments section below.

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hopess hopess 4 years
Try doing something like Jillian Michaels' DVDs. She incorporates weights/strengthening exercises with cardio. The best of both worlds!
darkpassion darkpassion 8 years
This has help me with better understanding
backnskinnyjeans backnskinnyjeans 8 years
I love cardio. Feels so invigorating to get all that oxygen into the lungs.
tlaralou tlaralou 8 years
the target heart rates always confuse me. when i go for a run, my heartrate generally hovers around the 175-180 range. according to the heart rate calculator, this is "flirting with danger" for me. am i doing something wrong?
Fitness Fitness 8 years
I couldn't have said it better myself - lintacious just gave some really good advice.
lintacious lintacious 8 years
really i thought most women just did cardio. weights are usually always forgotten. i prefer pilates to weights at a gym though. im still strengthening everything while not straining my muscles so much you can incorporate some weights into cardio, though im not sure if thats recommended. like using weighted wrist bands or ankle bands. might want to check first. also, you could do 30 mins of cardio one day, then 30 mins of weights the next. and just switch on and off.
lintacious lintacious 8 years
really i thought most women just did cardio. weights are usually always forgotten. i prefer pilates to weights at a gym though. im still strengthening everything while not straining my muscles so muchyou can incorporate some weights into cardio, though im not sure if thats recommended. like using weighted wrist bands or ankle bands. might want to check first.also, you could do 30 mins of cardio one day, then 30 mins of weights the next. and just switch on and off.
kristyrk kristyrk 8 years
If I know I only have time for either weights or cardio, which one should I do?
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