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  • Sarah Hooff CHN, CSNC

The Many Health Benefits of Cardio

Love it or hate it, cardio can be so good for us! No doubt, even if new to the fitness community, most people have heard the term cardio at some point in their life. Cardio is a rhythmic activity designed to help one reach their target heart rate. Cardio can improve our circulation, help with our natural detox processes, increase lung capacity and oxygenation, therefore increase our overall energy, maintain a healthy body weight, improve nutrient absorption and improve even the gloomiest of moods.

How does that saying go? If one could package all the health benefits from exercise into one little pill it would be the most prescribed pill on the planet! Easy to see why : )

Types of Cardio Exercises Never mind the weather, there are tons of exercises to choose from! Heck maybe the treadmill just isn't your thing! Anything that gets your heart rate going will suffice. Swimming, stair climbing, skipping, basketball or trail running with your dog. Choose what's right for you and try and keep it fun. Music can also be very helpful and has even been shown to decrease pain and improve healing.

How Often? How often will depend on your goal. For weight loss intensity is required but shorter and more frequent exercise is often the best way to go. It also depends on other exercises you might be already doing. One doesn't want to do so much that they get worn out and give up. Generally speaking, though three good sessions per week is ideal. Do try and include resistance training into your weekly routine as well for optimal results.

How Long Should a Session be? This will also depend on your starting point (level of fitness) and your goal. Sprinting for example is a great strategy for burning calories and will not require as much time. It really does depend on intensity and your overall plan. To start aiming for 20 minutes of exercise is deal. As always do warm up before you begin and always finish with cool down, and stretching. Also do keep in mind joint health and environment. Are you able to rest, do you have knee issues? Is anemia an issue? Talking with your doctor if you have any issues is definitely advisable. Exercise is not a one size fits all. Do personalize your plan and make adjustments as your health and endurance improve.

Is Cardio the best type of Exercise for Weight Loss? Yes and no. Absolutely cardio will super charge your weight loss plan, that said depending on your goals and how much you have to lose, it can sometimes be wiser to include (or increase) resistance training to your routine. Resistance training will signal the body to preserve muscle mass and if you do alter goals to building muscle vs weight loss the more muscle mass you have the better your metabolism will be. This is where nutrition will always be most important. But yes, generally speaking if you have been somewhat sedentary cardio is an excellent way to burn calories. Check out the list below. Keep in mind though one snack attack could counteract the caloric burn so do take care with your diet.

Best exercises for calorie burn The following table includes 10 excellent calorie-burning exercises. These exercises burn the most calories per hour. All these charts however are an estimate. Your exact calorie burn depends on factors like intensity, duration, and your weight.

For weight loss we need a weekly deficit of 3500 calories, or 500 less per day. Exercise and a slight nutritional deficit is a wise strategy for continued weight loss. Exercise/body weight 125 lbs 155 lbs 185 lbs Running 652 808 965 Bicycling 480 596 710 Circuit training 480 596 710 Jump rope 453 562 671 Stationary bicycling 420 520 622 Rowing machine 420 520 622 Aerobic dance 390 492 587 Swimming (casual) 396 492 587 Jogging 396 492 587 Hiking 340 421 503

Is Cardio Safe for Everyone? Generally speaking, Cardio is safe for most people but if new to exercise, pregnant or have an existing health condition please do check with your health care provider. One may just have to adjust their exercise plan and a doctor can help with that.

So there you have it a little on the benefits of cardio. Personally I love trail running with my son and our dog Sunny. It brings me so much joy and I probably do it more for my mental well being than for any other reason. I love it! So I hope you get out there and make some time for yourself, its so worth it!

Take good care, Sarah

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