YOU HAVE TO DO CARDIO!
It’s the BEST way to lose weight! It’s the ONLY way to lose weight! You HAVE to do 30-40 minutes before you lift! No actually you have to do 30-40 minutes after your workout! Just battle through the discomfort…running will provide maximum benefit. HIIT training is the BEST option for cardio because who has the time? Steady state cardio is the BEST way to lose weight!
WAIT…WHAT…confused yet? Let’s break this down for a second! Should you do cardio? YES…there are numerous documented studies showing the health benefits:
Burns calories and fat to aid in weight loss
Keeps the heart and muscles strong
Increases lung capacity
Reduces the risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint pain and stiffness, and some types of cancer.Releases endorphins (feel good hormones) to boost mood
Aids in better sleep at night
This sounds great, but WHAT IS CARDIO? I HATE RUNNING & cardio machines are super boring!
CARDIO IS ANYTHING THAT RAISES YOUR HEART RATE AND MAKES YOU BREATH HEAVY
Yes…ANYTHING! Vacuuming, raking leaves, shoveling snow, playing with kids, grandkids, etc. Now it needs to challenge your cardiovascular system AND raise your heart rate. A simple way to judge this is the ‘talk test’: if you could have a full conversation while doing this activity, it probably won’t pass as appropriate cardio. So, if you talk on the phone at the gym and have no problem carrying on the conversation, you’re not logging cardio minutes.
Let’s open our minds surrounding cardio and stop restricting ourselves to being on a treadmill or exercise machine for 60 minutes every day! Doctors recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week. This is for baseline, maintenance health so some health goals will require a higher amount of aerobic or anaerobic activity.
How do I figure out this cardio thing?
1. Take a moment to assess who you are and what you enjoy?
Some people love getting outside and being with nature. GREAT…next time you are going for a walk or hike, challenge yourself to walk a bit faster up a few hills and work your cardiovascular system a bit deeper. Some people enjoy lifting weights! You can absolutely challenge your cardiovascular system and dominate the ‘talk test’ during a lifting workout. You can also try adding small 30 sec-1 min bursts of cardio in between lifting sets. For example, jumping rope, stair climber machine, squats jumps, rowing machine, etc. Some people love working around the house. This works as cardio, if it can pass the ‘talk test’. Rigorous vacuuming, weeding, house cleaning could work, you will just need to be mindful and intentional regarding your breathing and heart rate. Some people love fitness classes! Awesome…find some classes that work for you and ENJOY!
2. Do you have restrictions?
Many people have bad knees, shoulders, back, etc. Just because running might not be allowed in your routine doesn’t mean you will slowly fade into obesity. The heart doesn’t have eyes, it doesn’t know whether it’s pumping more due to running or something else. Point is, you can do push-ups and get your heart and breathing rates up to produce fabulous cardiovascular results. Get creative…don’t lock yourself into a box of restrictions. You can always find something that will work!
3. BE HONEST!
You only get 1 body…don’t cheat yourself. We are amazing creatures who can make any reality make sense to us. For example, showing up at the gym is great and half the battle but the other half is actually doing some work! Taking a cycling class is awesome, but if you check your phone every other song or can talk to your neighbor most of the time you can’t log that 60-minute class as cardio. Lifting weights is great, but if you want it to count as cardio you can’t take long breaks between sets to chat with a friend or post selfies on Instagram…how much work did you really get in? Don’t fudge your numbers…you are only hurting yourself in the long run!
Cardio is important, but not everything! Just like there is no ‘magic pill’ or quick fix to weight loss, exercise requires balance, creativity and an open mind. We are incredible machines, we just must take the research, be honest, and implement a great plan for ourselves that will keep us motivated.