October 14

Benefits of Cardio Exercise

Exercise is an essential part of keeping up a healthy lifestyle. Moving your body, strengthening your muscles and burning calories are crucial parts of taking care of your health. Motivation is part of accomplishing exercise, but a solid workout routine will help keep you on track when your motivation is low. Your workout schedule should include exercises you enjoy, and cardio exercises should always be part of your routine.

Including cardio exercise in your workout routine is a must. The benefits of cardio workouts in all aspects of your health are exceptional. People may think of running, walking or biking when they think of cardio workouts, but there are so many other options available. It's easy to find a cardio workout you'll enjoy and can adapt to your fitness level and abilities.

Learn everything you need to know about the benefits of cardio workouts and how you can incorporate cardio into your exercise schedule.

What Is Cardio Exercise?

Cardio exercise is any type of movement or rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate and causes your lungs to work harder. Also known as aerobic exercise, cardio exercise is essential to your overall health because of the impact it has on your heart, lungs and your ability to burn calories. A big component that makes cardio exercise different from other methods, like strength conditioning and stretching, is the reliance on your body's ability to circulate oxygen to essential parts of your body during your workout.

Cardio is beneficial to every person, and the best part about this workout style is you can find an exercise that works best for you. Exercise is about taking care of your body, but you should also find some enjoyment in the workouts you're completing. Find the cardio workout that takes your heart rate to your target and helps you achieve your fitness goals.

Types of Cardio Exercise

You can choose from various styles of cardio to include in your workout schedule. Cardio workouts are versatile. You can accomplish them at the gym, outside, at home or nearly any location. Your workout location depends on the type of cardio you choose. Check out some of the different types of cardio exercises and see which ones you can adopt into your workout schedule:

  • Running or walking: Whether you walk, power walk, jog or run, lacing up your sneakers and moving your body is a great form of cardio exercise. People at all levels of fitness can benefit from a brisk walk, and challenging yourself to a job or run can impact your cardio abilities even more. You can venture around your neighborhood, around a track or go on an adventure and hike a nearby trail with a friend.
  • Cycling: Riding on your bike or cycling is another fun way to accomplish your cardio exercise. Cycle around your town or find some nearby bike trails you can explore. You can also bike to the supermarket for your next grocery trip instead of hopping in your car. Find plenty of opportunities where you can swap your bike in for a trip around town or plan morning, afternoon or evening bike rides to get your cardio in for the day.
  • Dancing: Whether you're an experienced dancer or consider yourself to have two left feet, dancing is another excellent way to accomplish a cardio exercise. Dancing is fun and energetic. You'll almost forget you're exercising when you're in a dance class or dance fitness class. Group fitness classes, like Zumba®, are popular because they're exciting ways to exercise and burn calories. Even if you're dancing at home, turn up the music, move your body and get your sweat on!
  • Cardio equipment: Treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and other cardio equipment are effective ways to include cardio workouts into your routine. Local gyms and fitness centers usually have a good selection of cardio equipment you can use, or you can purchase your own cardio equipment if you have the budget. Some group fitness classes focus on using cardio equipment, like the popular cycling classes.
  • Swimming: If you're a person who prefers low impact workouts or needs it because of your joints or other health conditions, swimming is a beneficial cardio exercise option. The water allows you to move freely without the added stress to your joints or muscles that gravity places, and the water provides resistance, so your movements engage more muscles. You can swim laps or attend an aqua aerobics class, like Aqua Zumba®.
  • Recreational sports: Whether you're a sports type of person or not, recreational sports are a fun activity that will raise your heart rate and get your body moving. You can find adult sports leagues through your city, local community center or fitness center. It's a fun way to socialize with other people and play games like basketball, tennis, flag football, soccer or softball. You can even gather with a group of close friends one day a week and play a pickup game to get your cardio workout in.
  • Jump roping: If you're looking for a solo cardio workout that will surely get your heart rate up, grab a jump rope. Jump rope is an effective cardio workout, and you can accomplish this exercise practically anywhere. It's an easy piece of equipment to travel with, giving you plenty of opportunities to complete a workout. Turn on your favorite playlist and start your cardio exercise.
  • Boxing: Boxing may remind you of the sport that has a large following with numerous legends, but it has been adapted to a great type of cardio workout. You're not taking any punches like traditional boxing, but you'll complete various exercise routines similar to an aerobics class. You'll follow an instructor who will show you moves and combinations, including different types of punches, ducks, squats and quick steps. You'll complete all of these choreographed moves to music. It's a fun way to include cardio in your weekly exercise schedule.

Cardio Exercise Benefits

The cardio workout benefits you'll experience from any type of cardio workout will positively impact your overall health. From your physical, mental and social health, cardio workouts impact it all.

Whether you want to reach a new fitness goal, start your fitness journey or improve certain aspects of your health, cardio workouts can help. Learn about the many benefits of cardio exercise and what to expect when you include it into your exercise routine.

The cardio workout benefits you'll experience from any type of cardio workout will positively impact your overall health.

1. Improves Heart Health

Cardio exercise can help strengthen your heart and improve overall heart health. Different types of cardio workouts raise your heart rate and cause your heart to work harder and pump blood through your body faster. This process works your heart muscle, and like any muscle, it's important to work it out regularly so it stays strong and works efficiently as you age. Improving your circulation helps deliver blood to all parts of your body and keeps your arteries clear.

Cardio workouts also help lower your resting heart rate and improve heart conditions, like lowering your blood pressure, increasing good cholesterol and decreasing your risk for heart disease.

2. Helps With Weight Loss or Maintaining Healthy Weight

A big reason people enjoy cardio workouts and exercise in general is the ability to burn calories. Your body needs to utilize the energy you provide to complete daily tasks. Some of that energy comes from the food and beverages you consume and the stored fat in your body. You burn this energy through normal daily activities, but you can burn more calories through cardio exercise.

Cardio exercise is a great way to help reach your weight loss goals or help maintain a healthy weight. Cardio exercise, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, is a great combination for reaching personal health goals.

3. Boosts Your Mood

Some days you can't help feeling down, or you need a quick boost after a hard day. Cardio exercise can help improve your mood or decrease feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. Accomplishing cardio exercise can cause your brain to release different chemicals and hormones, like serotonin, that increase your mood and make you happier.

Exercise is an excellent outlet to relieve stress. You can move your body hard and fast to expel any stress you've been carrying or relieve symptoms of anxiety.

Cardio workouts can also increase the number of endorphins your body produces, which helps promote happy feelings and decrease your perception of pain.

4. Improves Your Sleep and Energy

Two important aspects of your life that impact your daily routine are your sleep schedule and energy levels. Cardio exercise can help positively impact both.

Seven to eight hours of sleep is what numerous professionals recommend. And many people are trying to get enough sleep and looking for ways to fall asleep easier at night and have a better quality sleep throughout the night. Adding cardio workouts to your routine can help make your sleep quality better and make you feel more tired in the evening.

A healthy option for increasing your energy throughout the day is cardio exercise. The endorphins your body releases during cardio workouts help boost your energy and can lead you to a more productive day.

A healthy option for increasing your energy throughout the day is cardio exercise.

5. Reduces Your Risk of Various Diseases

Cardio exercise impacts your overall health, and a crucial benefit from this type of workout is reducing your risk of different diseases. Cardio exercise can help decrease your risk of strokes, heart attacks and other conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

Cardio workouts improve the efficiency and productivity of many parts of your body. When your body is working better and you're taking care of yourself with a healthy diet and lifestyle choices, you can significantly reduce your risk of several diseases and conditions. Certain types of cardio exercise, like walking, can reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Cardio can also help with managing different conditions and improving your quality of life when you have certain diseases. Get your heart pumping to help manage chronic conditions like arthritis, coronary artery disease and more.

6. Improves Your Metabolism

A cardio workout will boost your heart rate and your metabolism. Your metabolism is the process your body completes to transform your food into energy. The speed of a metabolism process depends on the person and various factors like sex, genetics and age. A faster metabolism can help aid in weight loss or weight maintenance because you'll burn more calories. One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is through exercise like cardio workouts.

Cardio workouts, along with a healthy diet, are important factors to speeding up your metabolism and turning more of the calories you consume into the energy your body uses to function.

7. Enhances Your Lung Capacity

Cardio exercise is commonly associated with heavy and accelerated breathing because of the hard work you're putting in. This intense breathing your experience is helping your lungs become stronger and work more efficiently. Every time you complete a cardio workout, your lungs work hard and slowly increase your lung capacity.

Increasing your lung capacity helps improve your fitness abilities. You can begin to challenge yourself with more demanding workouts since you'll be able to exercise with less fatigue than before. Increasing your lung capacity is also beneficial as you age by keeping your lungs productive and strong.

8. Gives You the Opportunity to Socialize

Cardio exercise helps improve your physical health, mental health and your social health. You can find different cardio group fitness classes to join at your local gym or anywhere in your community that will give you an opportunity to interact with other people. Cardio fitness classes are a great space to make new friends that share a common interest with you.

Socializing is a big part of overall health. Forming relationships and having friends make people happy. Making new friends as you get older can be hard when you're busy with work, family and other parts of your life. Fitness and cardio classes are a great opportunity to expand your social circle.

Socializing is a big part of overall health. Forming relationships and having friends make people happy.

9. Boosts Your Immune System

Getting sick is the last thing anyone wants. You want your immune system to be strong so you can fight off illnesses quickly and move on with your daily activities. Strengthen your immune system by performing cardio workouts regularly.

Regularly completing cardio exercise boosts your immune system by changing the antibodies and white blood cells in your body. Exercise also makes your blood circulate more efficiently, so those white blood cells and antibodies are circulating faster. This allows them to detect sicknesses quicker and start the fight against them sooner than before you started exercising regularly.

10. Helps Brain and Joint Health

Cardio exercise can positively impact both your brain and joint health. Including cardio workouts in your weekly routine can help improve different functions of your brain, like your thinking abilities and memory, and protect you against diseases that impact the brain.

Cardio workouts can also help manage pain from joint conditions and help improve your flexibility and range of motion. That can open up a world of cardio exercise possibilities, letting you find and enjoy new ways to work out over time.

Enjoy Zumba® as Your Cardio Exercise

If you love group fitness classes and enjoy dancing, one of the best cardio workouts you can participate in is Zumba®. Zumba® is a popular dance exercise program that will raise your heart rate and provide you with all of the exceptional cardio workout benefits.

Find a Zumba® class near you or learn how to become a Licensed Zumba® Instructor today!