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Why Cardio?

When it comes to exercise there are many different options for what you choose to participate in.  Different types can be beneficial in different ways depending on what your goals are.  So why choose Cardio?  How can Cardio affect your lifestyle?

Well, let’s start first by making sure we know what Cardio is.  Cardio is short for cardiovascular which means relating to the heart and blood vessels.  The idea of Cardio is to increase fitness levels by raising your heart rate and building endurance.  The term Cardio is used interchangeably with Aerobic Exercise.  The word aerobic means with oxygen.  While the words mean different things the two activities cannot really be separated.  When you elevate your heart rate you will automatically take in more oxygen and vice versa.  The objective of these exercises is to keep you moving for a sustained period while your heart rate is elevated, and your calorie burn is increased.  Although Grind2Fit incorporates a variety of routines that include flexibility and balance, most of the program varies between aerobic and anaerobic styles.  (Anaerobic means “without oxygen”.  You know, like the parts where you feel like you can’t breathe.  We’ll save that for another day.)

But what is the point?  Obviously, if the goal is to lose weight then a higher calorie burn will help achieve that.  However, are there benefits to health beyond just weight loss?  What non scale victories can be achieved through an active cardio regimen? 

Let’s start with one of the most obvious:  It strengthens your heart muscles.  By building the strength in your heart through regular cardiovascular exercise your heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood.  You can see decreased blood pressure and a lower resting heart rate.  Simply put, the engine runs much more efficiently.  This one thing benefits your entire body! 

As well as strengthening your heart, the aerobic side of things is that it strengthens your lungs as well and can help increase lung capacity.  You ever feel winded going up a steep flight of steps?  Aerobic exercise helps with that.  Regular exercise will help condition your lungs to work in a more efficient manner leading to better oxygen levels throughout your whole body.  Good oxygen levels help the body create energy, digest food, eliminate toxins, metabolize fat and carbs, optimize sleep, and aid mental clarity just to name a few.

Between better blood flow and increased oxygen, both factors have an impact on how the body functions overall.  Many systems in the body are impacted such as memory and cognitive function, circulation and blood sugar levels.  This means better attention spans, lower blood pressure and reduced risk for diabetes type 2 and complications thereof. 

Cardio can also help lower bad cholesterol levels and improve the good cholesterol numbers!  Cholesterol affects your risk for heart disease and stroke.  Changing these numbers can greatly impact your long-term health and longevity of life.

As if all of that isn’t enough reason to work some cardio into your life there is also an amazing thing that happens as you get your heart pumping and oxygen levels rising.  Your brain releases these wonderful chemicals called endorphins.  Endorphins work naturally in the body in a similar way to morphine.  That is to say that they help reduce perception of pain and offer a mood boost!  They also act as a natural sedative.  What does that mean for your body? 

Well, in the simplest terms you get the most natural treatment there is to help reducing depression, anxiety and insomnia!   These endorphins will also help you to feel better about yourself and aid in improving self-esteem.  Of course, it naturally feels good to set and achieve goals but the very act of working out by itself will allow your body to reward you for doing so.  Although it is sometimes hard to get started, you can expect a healthy dose of feeling good for doing so.

Cardio also helps reduce your cortisol levels.  Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and highly contributes to how much it feels like life is weighing you down.  By working in some cardio, you can see a reduction to these stress levels.  By reducing stress levels, you can also see a secondhand reduction to many of the same risk factors.  We all know that stress can literally kill you.  Cardio gives you a way to get some of that stress out in a healthy and productive way that is also beneficial to your overall well-being. 

Ok, so is that still not enough?  What about helping with bone density and balance leading to less risk from injury?  Helping to reduce arthritis and inflammation of joints?  Helping to boost your immune system and ward off illness?

If all of that doesn’t entice you what about an enhancement to your sex life?  Apart from building confidence and an overall better feeling about yourself, cardio exercise can also lead to decreased risk of dysfunction in men and increased arousal in women.  Plus, being in shape overall can help lead to….well….let’s go with endurance.

The bottom line is that incorporating cardio into your workout routine has huge benefits to your physical, mental and emotional health well beyond weight loss and muscle strength.  The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity spread out over the course of the week with the added recommendation of over 300 minutes of activity for increased benefits.  This amounts to 3-5 Grind2Fit classes per week to achieve optimal health benefits. 

Plus, none of this data adds in the benefits of working out among a large group of friends working together and rooting one another on!  The community aspect of participating in a class adds in even further benefits to overall health that you cannot achieve on a treadmill.  The laughter and communal effort and struggle add to the rewards that would be achieved by just taking on a cardio routine solo. 

By consistently and regularly taking part in Grind2Fit classes you are adding to your overall health in ways far beyond just keeping the pounds off and keeping your body fit.  You may, in fact, be changing the course of your life overall in ways far beyond what can be measured on a scale or with measuring tape. 

Besides weight loss, what are some of the benefits you have seen as a direct result of regularly participating in cardio exercises?  Have you experienced any of the above benefits?  Not all transformation and success stories are about weight loss.  Drop us a comment and let us know what changes you’ve seen beyond the scale!

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