Benefits of Cardio Exercise - It's Not What You Think

Do You Even Cardio?

It even happens to personal trainers.

We all have some kind of exercise we don't enjoy. We know we should do it, but we really don't enjoy it.

For me it's cardio.

It's boring, it makes me feel uncomfortable and I'll do anything to avoid it.

But I do other forms of exercise so do I really need to worry about cardio?

I really do.

Yes, cardio will help you to lose weight.

It is movement and as you know, the more you move the more calories you burn.

But in my view, that's not the most significant benefit of cardio exercise. Weight loss shouldn't be the primary reason to do cardio.

Do it because it's going to make you healthier.

Do it because it's going to make walking up the hill really easy.

Weight loss should be a happy side effect.

How does it make you healthier?

Benefits of cardio exercise - improving your engine

Someone once described the cardio system to me as your engine and it has kind of stuck.

In your car it's important to keep your engine running smoothly.

It may look lovely and shiny. It may have the latest gadgets. It may even have the power to tow your neighbour out of the mud. But if the engine isn't running properly it makes no difference.

You won't be going anywhere in it. You won't be towing anyone in it.

And it's the same with your body.

You may have six pack abs, a gorgeously pert bum and finally be able to fit into those skinny jeans that have been hanging in your wardrobe for years. But what's the point if you can't walk out of the front door to show anyone.

You may be able to press your partner over your head, deadlift two of yourself or squat over 100 kilos. But what's the point if you can't carry yourself up the stairs.

Ok, so they are extreme examples, but if you don't work on your cardio it could come to that.

Here comes the sciencey bit ...

Sciencey bit...

Our bodies are designed to move. And to move you need to supply oxygen to your muscles and get waste products out of your body.

This is done by your heart and your lungs.

The more you move the harder your lungs and your heart have to work.

Your lungs inhale more deeply to get that supply of oxygen and exhale more deeply to get rid of waste products, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your heart beats more strongly to fuel that delivery.

By working your cardio system you do all of this more efficiently.


benefits of cardio exercise, your road to healthBenefits of cardio exercise - your road to health

The walls of your heart become thicker and stronger so you pump more blood with every stroke.


You develop more red blood cells, improving your ability to transport oxygen around your body.


Your lungs effectively become bigger.


Less waste products are produced (particularly lactic acid).


The walls of your arteries improve in elasticity meaning they can cope with the increased volume being pumped.

Making all of this more effective means simple, everyday tasks, like walking up the stairs or down the street, easier.


benefits of cardio exercise, your road to healthBenefits of cardio exercise - your road to health

The walls of your heart become thicker and stronger so you pump more blood with every stroke.


You develop more red blood cells, improving your ability to transport oxygen around your body.


Your lungs effectively become bigger.


Less waste products are produced (particularly lactic acid).


The walls of your arteries improve in elasticity meaning they can cope with the increased volume being pumped.

Making all of this more effective means simple, everyday tasks, like walking up the stairs or down the street, easier.


Benefits of cardio exercise - how to get started

The good thing about cardio is that it is really easy to do and you don't really need any equipment.

Going for a walk or a jog, or run if you're feeling more adventurous is a really easy way to get the benefits of cardio exercise.

But they aren't the only ways. And if you're anything like me, and hate running, you will want some alternatives.

So go for a swim.

Use the cardio machines in the gym. Bike, cross trainer, rower or treadmill.

Pick up something heavy and carry it. (Put that one on repeat).

Do a kettlebell workout.

Or even an aerobics class.

Go back to your childhood and have an egg and spoon race.

It doesn't matter what you do, just make sure your heart rate is increased.

That's when you'll truly reap the benefits of cardio exercise.

So go on. Get cardioing.

Get imaginative. Mix it up. Enjoy.

You deserve it.

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