Everything You Need to Know About Cardio

Young athletic man jogging on running track while exercising in health club

Praised by many as the holy grail of fitness, you’ve probably heard a lot about cardio workouts, and may even be interested in trying them for yourself. As with any workout, though, cardio comes with several unique considerations. So it’s good to be informed before you get started. To help you out, we’ve put together a few of the basics, including the benefits of cardio. How to make a schedule, what workouts to try, and how to do all of this as safely as possible.

What Is Cardio?

Cardio covers a broad umbrella of exercises, generally including any workout designed to get your heart rate up. Your heart is a muscle just like any other, which means that it gets stronger when it’s engaged, and weaker when it’s not. You engage your heart by performing rigorous, fast-paced exercises. Because your body needs more oxygen to keep up. Your heart has to work harder to pump enough blood. Over time, challenging it like this will help it grow stronger.

Benefits of Cardio

It’s hard to find a fitness enthusiast who doesn’t sing praises of cardio, and that’s for very good reason. Cardiovascular exercises known for a wide range of benefits, from better fitness in general to a reduced risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It’s one of the most effective ways to melt away fat. When combined with strength exercises and a healthy diet, forms the foundation of a healthier lifestyle in general. If you’re looking to make a major lifestyle change, cardio is one of the best places to start.

How Often Should I Do Cardio?

Young athletic woman doing cardio exercise in gym

As with any exercise, it’s best to start small with your cardio exercises. Most popular cardio gym workouts are very high-impact. So doing cardio every day right from the get-go opens you up to any number of injuries. Kick your new workout routine off with 2-3 cardio sessions every week, and take time to recover in between. Once you’ve become more experienced and started developing stronger muscles, you can begin doing cardio more frequently. However, we’d like to caution against going over 5 cardio days a week. No matter how experienced you are, your body still needs time to rest. So those two rest days are still important.

Once you’ve got the details of your cardio schedule hammered out, figure out how long you want each workout to be. All of your cardio workouts should last for at least 20-30 minutes, but if you’re doing high-impact cardio, they probably shouldn’t last more than an hour. While you can benefit from the calorie-burning properties of cardio no matter your workout length, your heart will only experience definite growth if your workouts are long enough. On the other hand, working out for too long opens you up to muscle injuries from overexertion. Finding the right workout length is all about balance, so do a bit of experimenting and figure out what works best for you.

Best Cardio Workouts

Young happy sportswoman running on the road in the morning

Cardio covers such a wide variety of exercises that you’re practically guaranteed to find some form of cardio you enjoy. One of the most common cardio workouts is running, but we understand that that’s not for everyone. Though you’ll have to work out for longer, less strenuous exercises like walking are just as viable of an option. There’s also cycling, which you can adjust the intensity of by taking on easier or more challenging bike trails. As long as you’re willing to look, you can find a workout that suits your tastes, needs, and skill level, so it’s worth trying a few to see which works best.

Important Safety Tips

Young women doing cardio exercise on stationary cycle in gym

As mentioned earlier, be sure you’re resting up in between workouts. As you work out, your muscles become fatigued, and they need time to mend themselves. Neglecting to do so increases your risk of injuries, not to mention the fact that your workouts simply won’t be as effective. Denying your muscles rest is a lot like denying your body sleep. In both cases, you’re more likely to make mistakes and have accidents, and even if neither of those things happens, you still won’t be at your best.

In addition to regular rest, be sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you during your exercises. Workouts supposed to hurt. As they say, no pain, no gain. What you need to ensure, though, is that you’re feeling the right pain. If you start feeling any new pains that seem unusual or alarming, stop working out and take it easy for the rest of the day. If that pain persists in future workouts, go visit your doctor. Trying to power through it could lead to a serious injury that puts you out of commission for a while. 

This also applies to health notifications from your smartwatch or fitness tracker. If you have an abnormal pulse, blood pressure, or falling blood oxygen, it could be indicative of a significant issue. In general, just be careful and conscious of your health. As long as you keep both of these safety tips in mind, though, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of cardio for a better, healthier life.

Looking for more great personal fitness tips, tricks, and products? Feel free to visit us at NineFit today!

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