Is there anything more important in life than preserving our health? It is rather difficult, often impossible even, to focus on tasks and responsibilities if there is an illness or an injury hindering your process. In order to combat this, there are two main factors to include. The first comes in the form of a healthy diet while the other is exercising. In this article, we focus primarily on the latter, particularly cardio exercise.
Physical activity and exercise are essential components of a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity has numerous benefits for the body and mind, as well as overall well-being. Right here and now, we will explore the importance of physical activity, the different types of exercise, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle.
How Important Is Exercise?
First and foremost, we discuss the importance of physical activity. Engaging in regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing various chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers.
Being physically active can also improve mental health by reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and enhancing mood and cognitive function. Furthermore, regular workouts can improve quality of life, increase energy levels, and promote better sleep. And who can forget the satisfying feeling of accomplishment and feel stronger by the day?
Different Exercise Types
So what different types of exercise are there? Is it all the same? Of course not. There are four main types of exercise to be distinguished, aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance. Aerobic, or cardio exercise, includes activities that increase heart rate and breathing. They usually employ the entire body and include walking, running, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
Strength training involves lifting weights or using resistance bands to build muscle and increase strength. Flexibility exercises like yoga and stretching improve the range of motion and prevent injury. Balance exercises include standing on one foot or tai chi and serve to improve balance and prevent falls.
Each type of exercise offers unique benefits for the body. Cardio exercises can improve cardiovascular health and increase endurance. Strength training increases muscle mass, improves bone density, and prevents injury. Flexibility improves the range of motion and prevents stiffness while balancing exercises can reduce the risk of falls and improve stability. So, how does one incorporate physical activity into a daily routine and what should be done?
How to Work Out Properly?
It is generally recommended that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. This is in addition to muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week and some stretching and balance exercises are thrown in there. This comes down to the usual recommendation of 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise as the minimum.
To get started, it is always important to consider setting realistic goals for yourself and finding activities that you enjoy. You might try joining a fitness class or group, going for a walk or bike ride with friends, or incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine by choosing the stairs instead of the elevator. Cycling or walking instead of driving for short trips is a no-brainer.
Physical activity and exercise are essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases and everything should be done in order for the body and mind to be in unison. While there are many types of exercise to choose from, each with unique benefits, cardio is often thought of as the healthiest because of how important it can be for the areas of health that are not always obvious.
With enough commitment and consistency, achieving your fitness goals and enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle with cardio exercises are right around the corner.
The Benefits of Cardio
Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, refers to any type of exercise that increases the heart rate and breathing and gets blood pumping throughout (almost) the entire body. As mentioned earlier, these activities are also known as aerobic exercises as they primarily rely on the aerobic energy system of the body that uses oxygen to produce energy.
They also require most of the body to work together even if it does not seem so at first. This makes them great for coordination, range of motion, and agility.
The most common examples of cardio exercise include running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, dancing, and jumping rope. Cardio exercises can be performed at low, moderate, or high intensities, depending on the individual’s fitness level and goals.
Many of them are best when done outside since the thing that prevents a lot of people from doing them more is how repetitive and monotonous they feel inside. Cardio exercise has numerous benefits for the body and mind. Here are some of the most important ones:
Cardiovascular health improved: Cardio exercises strengthen the heart muscle, increase blood flow, and improve circulation. This helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems and promotes overall health.
Weight loss: Cardio burns calories and helps with weight loss and weight management. When combined with a healthy diet, there is nothing better than significant improvements in body composition and health.
Mood and stress management: Cardio releases endorphins, natural mood boosters that reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
Energy and endurance increase: Regular cardio exercise improves stamina, endurance, and overall energy levels. This can help you feel more alert and focused throughout the day.
Sleep improvement: Cardio also improves sleep quality and reduces the incidence of sleep disorders such as insomnia. The body works in the best way possible to naturally require the right amount of sleep.
Blood pressure and cholesterol lowered: Cardio exercises can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Overall, incorporating cardio/aerobics into your regular routine has numerous benefits for physical and mental health. Whether you prefer running, cycling, swimming, dancing, or just walking more, there are many different reasons to do so and benefits to reap. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the workouts in order to avoid injury and build endurance. Soon, you will be doing much more than you ever thought possible.
Side Effects of Not Doing Cardio Exercises
So why is cardio so crucial exactly and what happens if one never does it? Not doing cardio, or engaging in regular aerobic exercise, can have a number of negative effects on your health and well-being.
Without regular cardio, the heart and blood vessels become less efficient increasing your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. As it is an effective way to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, without regular cardio people are more prone to weight gain and obesity. This increases the risk of a number of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Not doing enough regular exercise makes us feel more tired and sluggish, which then impacts our ability to perform daily tasks and enjoy activities we once loved. Exercise is known to have a positive impact on mood and cardio is very satisfying in the end. Without it, individuals are more prone to mood disturbances and mental health problems.
Because of how important and beneficial they are, regular cardio exercises help improve your physical fitness including endurance, strength, and flexibility. If we fail to do it and focus only on other types of exercise, physical fitness will eventually decline and impact our ability to perform daily activities, enjoy our favorite hobbies, and do sports.
Examples of Cardio Machines
Although these activities are more fun when done outside, especially cycling, running, and walking, this is hardly always possible. Most people do them inside, at fitness centers and gyms, on those well-known exercising machines. These cardio machines are exercise equipment designed for cardiovascular workouts.
They simulate different types of cardio exercises like walking, running, cycling, and rowing, and provide a low-impact way to engage in aerobic exercise indoors. Some common types of cardio machines that every gym has to include:
Treadmills: A treadmill is a machine that allows walking, jogging, or running indoors. It has a moving platform with a conveyor belt that simulates the feeling of running outdoors. Speeds and inclines can be adjusted.
Elliptical trainers: An elliptical trainer is a low-impact machine that simulates walking, running and stair climbing. It has two pedals that move in an elliptical motion that provides a workout for the legs and upper body.
Stationary bikes: A stationary bike is a machine that simulates the feeling of riding a bicycle indoors. It has a seat, pedals, and handlebars, and can be adjusted for different resistance levels.
Rowing machines: A rowing machine simulates the motion of rowing a boat. There is a sliding seat, foot pedals, and a handlebar to pull back and forth, providing a full-body workout, especially the legs, arms, and lower back.
Stair climbers: Exactly as it sounds, a stair climber simulates the feeling of climbing stairs. There are multiple types, the most common having two pedals that move up and down and provide a workout for the legs and glutes.
Cardio machines are a very convenient way to engage in aerobic exercise indoors, regardless of the weather or time of day. They allow easy progress tracking and data including distance, speed, and calories burned. Many cardio machines have heart rate monitors and programs as well that can help you achieve your fitness goals and give you a better idea of your performance.
The main downside of cardio machines is that they can become quite monotonous and may not provide the same variety of movement and stimulation as the real outdoor activities they are trying to replicate.
It is important to use proper form and technique when using any cardio machines to avoid injury and maximize the benefits of your workout. Also, it is recommended to still do these activities outside when possible.
The Best Cardio Machine: Which is it?
So is there a cardio machine that beats others, one that can be considered the best? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what the best cardio machine is since the ideal machine depends on the individual’s fitness level, goals, preferences, and physical limitations.
With this being said, a breakdown of the pros and cons of popular cardio machines and their potential benefits could help you:
Treadmills are great for those who enjoy running or walking and want to simulate outdoor exercise indoors. They are also very effective for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health.
However, treadmills can be hard on the joints and may not be suitable for those with joint pain or injuries. Also, the feeling of running is not the same as when doing it outside and it gets boring rather quickly.
Elliptical trainers provide a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints and suitable for all fitness levels. They also work the upper body as well as the lower body, something that is not present when walking, jogging, or running on a treadmill.
However, some people find the motion of the elliptical to be awkward or uncomfortable and it is therefore definitely not for everyone. The motion is rather unnatural for the human body.
Stationary bikes provide another type of low-impact workout that is very easy on the joints and effective for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health. It is arguably the best way to break in the first sweat and warm up before doing anything else at the gym.
They also allow you to adjust the resistance level to increase the intensity of your workout. However, some people find sitting on a stationary bike for longer periods uncomfortable. Time passes very slowly when using it.
Rowing machines are a rare, full-body workout effective for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health. They are low-impact and easy on the joints but allow muscle strengthening and too.
The biggest issue with rowing machines is that they require proper form and technique to avoid injury, and some people may find the motion to be awkward or uncomfortable. It takes some getting used to because you have to pay attention to how your legs, back, and arms are positioned at all times.
Stair climbers are easy on most joints and can be effective for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health. They work the legs and glutes and give great results. A lot of people find the motion difficult or uncomfortable, similar to elliptical trainers.
Furthermore, stair climbers may not be suitable for those with knee or hip problems because of the motions needed to do it properly.
As you can see, there is no best when it comes to cardio machines. It is the one that you enjoy using and that helps you achieve your fitness goals the most. What you can do is mix up your workouts and try different machines to avoid boredom and plateauing, since many of them share the same benefits and downsides. This is what most people do anyway and it is common to utilize the bike, the rowing machine, and the treadmill on different training days.
Lazar Sretenović, an IFBB and REPs Level 3 certified trainer, specializes in personalized fitness programs encompassing weight lifting, EMS, and endurance training. With a focus on tailored nutrition and holistic well-being, Lazar Sretenović guides clients through transformative health journeys, emphasizing safety and individual goals.