If you’ve considered taking up a more active lifestyle, you’ve most definitely heard of “cardio activities”. Cardio plays an important role in many fitness routines, and performing cardio exercise is a great way to keep your heart and body healthy. The best thing about cardio activities is that people at all fitness levels can perform them.
Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is defined as any type of physical exercise, performed at moderate but increasing levels of intensity, over extended periods of time. The word “aerobic” means “with oxygen”; therefore, aerobic exercise refers to the body’s use of oxygen throughout the activity. Cardio exercises are aimed at increasing your heart rate, and can help you to effectively burn calories.
Most people immediately think of weight loss when considering cardio activities. While it is true that cardio and aerobic exercise will increase metabolism, and result in a loss of fat mass, there are other very important health benefits to consider. Taking part in cardio activities goes way beyond the average weight loss program.
Cardio activities and aerobic exercise can help to:
- Tone muscles throughout the body, resulting in improved blood circulation and reduced blood pressure
- Strengthen cardiovascular muscles to increase the pumping efficiency of the heart
- Strengthen respiratory muscles to promote smoother, unlabored breathing
- Increase the number of red blood cells, resulting in improved transport of oxygen throughout the body Regular and disciplined aerobic exercise can help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Taking part in an active cardio exercise program also helps lower the risk of other health problems including respiratory disease and osteoporosis. Cardio activities are not limited to members of expensive fitness clubs. Some of the most common cardio exercises are:
- Walking: This is one cardio activity that you’re already doing, everyday! Walking is a very beneficial, low-impact exercise that can be done virtually everywhere. It is one of a few aerobics exercises that can be incorporated into any type of lifestyle, and best of all it’s free! A 15-30 minute walk around the mall will allow your body to lose as many calories as you would on a treadmill. You can increase your caloric and fat loss by increasing the pace and rhythm of your walks.
- Running and Jogging: Like walking, jogging and running can be done in many places. Plan a route through your neighbourhood, run around the park, jog along the boardwalk at the beach, or take to a track. Running and jogging are accessible, easy and free cardio activities. Before you begin, make sure that you’re body is ready. Beginners should begin with speed walking, and then gradually work up to a jogging or running routine. Running is a very natural activity for your body and you can easily work it into your regular exercise routine.
- Aerobic Dancing: In the 1970’s there was an explosion in aerobic activity through the Jazzercise program. The 1980s brought exercise gurus like Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons into the spotlight, and even brought exercise attire like headbands and legwarmers to the fashion runways. In the 1990s, aerobics lessons were led by supermodels and sold everywhere on video. The new millennium brought cardio activities like pilates and yoga. Over the past thirty decades aerobics dance exercises may have changed, but the excitement has not faded. People still love to work out to a hot beat, and aerobic dance moves are fun and effective ways to keep weight off and maintain a trim, toned body. Contrary to what many people believe, aerobic exercise is not limited to the uber-healthy. There are a variety of aerobic dance lesson styles to appeal to people of all fitness levels:
- Low-impact: In low-impact aerobics, the dancer always keeps one foot on the ground. There are no bouncing or jumping movements that can cause joint pain. Low-impact aerobic exercise is ideal for people just starting out, for older people, and for those who cannot or should not move or jump around excessively.
- High-impact: There is a great deal of jumping and complicated body movements in high-impact aerobics. For this reason, those with a little experience and a certain amount of agility and rhythm best perform these cardio activities.
- Water aerobics: Cardio exercises done in the water are known as water aerobics. These are low-impact activities that are usually performed in waist-deep water, so some swimming ability is required.
- Step aerobics: In step aerobics, a raised platform is used with a combination of body movements. “Stepping” movements are often used in both low and high-impact aerobics routines. Cardio activities are good for maintaining a healthy weight, and essential in keeping a healthy heart. Consider making regular cardio exercise part of your daily routine.