Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any type of movement that gets your heart rate up, and increases blood circulation throughout the body. Most use cardio do burn off extra calories and loose weight, as the more you move, the more your body requires fuel for energy – and once your body runs out of glycogen stored in your muscles for fuel, it turns to your fat stores for extra energy. So, the more active you are – the more calories you burn, and if you are burning more calories than you take in, the more fat you’ll burn.
The reason to do cardio does not end with fat loss though; there are a wide variety of health benefits you receive from a regular cardio program.
Your heart is a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets. And, if you don’t exercise your heart, it will weaken over time, leading to a variety of negative health effects. Getting your heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis keeps it healthy and in shape!
Another good reason to perform cardio is for its effects on the metabolism. Along with speeding up your heart rate, cardiovascular exercise also increases the rate of various other processes in the body, also known as your metabolism. The more intense your workout, the more your metabolic rate increases – continuing to help you burn fat or maintaining your overall weight.
Cardiovascular exercise can release “feel good” hormones such as “endorphins” – these can help you lessen the symptoms of depression and fatigue, as well as decrease your appetite. You feel better without resorting to food to improve your mood. And, as you see your health improving, it keeps you motivated to continue your workouts!
When you exercise, your body burns fuel. One of the by-products is lactic acid, which builds up in your muscles, causing additional soreness. By adding cardio to your workouts, your body takes in extra oxygen, helping to remove those by-products, as well as that extra oxygen-rich blood helps muscle tissues repair and rebuild faster.