Here is some information to enable you to make an informed decision with regards to your cardiovascular training regime!
What is cardiovascular training, what are the benefits and how do I get started?
Cardiovascular training (also known as “aerobic training” or simply as “cardio”) has long been a popular form of exercise – since the 1960s, when Kenneth Cooper (known as “the father of aerobics”) began to research and promote the idea that cardiovascular training can improve one’s health. Here is some information to enable you to make an informed decision with regards to your cardiovascular training regime!
First: what IS cardiovascular training, exactly?
We’ve all heard the words thrown around but what exactly do they refer to? Cardiovascular (or aerobic) training is simply the term given to any form of exercise in which your heart rate increases and this elevated level is maintained for a reasonable period of time (think running, skipping, etc.). The literal meaning of aerobic is “with oxygen” and refers to how energy is produced. Aerobic respiration requires oxygen and glucose, and produces carbon dioxide, water, and energy.
Anaerobic exercise, therefore, is “without oxygen” and generally refers to strength training or short bursts of exercise (think a 100m sprint or doing bicep curls).
Examples of cardiovascular training that you can incorporate:
- Stair climbing
- Elliptical trainer
- Indoor rower
- Stationary bicycle
- Jump rope
- Circuit training
- Jumping jacks, high knees, etc.
- Water aerobics
Okay, so why do I need to do cardio?
Today we have unassailable evidence that attests to the fact that cardiovascular training is greatly beneficial to our health and wellbeing. These benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Strengthening the muscles involved in breathing. This improves the process by which air flows in and out of the lungs
- Strengthening and enlarging the heart This improves its pumping efficiency and also reduces the resting heart rate. This is known as aerobic conditioning
- Improving circulation and reducing blood pressure
- Increasing the amount of red blood cells in the body. This helps to facilitate the transport of oxygen through the body
- Reducing the risk for diabetes, as muscle uses sugars better than fat does and cardiovascular training can assist in building lean muscle
- Increasing metabolism
- Possibly delaying osteoporosis, as there is a simultaneous increase in muscle mass, a loss of fat and an increase in bone density
- Overall helping to combat obesity and the risks associated with it.
The benefits of cardiovascular training are not only physical, but mental as well. There is research that has proven the positive effects that cardiovascular training has on psychological well-being. It has been shown to improve mental health, reduce stress, lower the incidence of depression and increase cognitive capacity. In today’s rat race world, this is a massive bonus!
I’m sold. But where do I start?
Anywhere! The great thing about doing cardio is that it can be done anywhere, anytime and with little to no equipment needed! That being said, there are 2 major considerations when first implementing a cardiovascular training program: duration and frequency.
The guidelines for cardio differ depending on what you are hoping to achieve.
The American College of Sport Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This can be met by doing 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day, 5 days per week. Alternatively, you can do 20-60 minutes of exercise about 3 days a week. You can either do a continuous session, or you can break it up into sessions of at least 10 minutes each.
If you just want to keep healthy, the minimum recommendation (in conjunction with a healthy diet) should suffice. If, however, you are looking to lose weight and increase fitness and overall body composition, you should be increasing your amount of exercise (also in conjunction with a healthy diet).
It is commonly advised that you start slowly and gradually increase both duration and frequency as you get fitter. It is also advisable to incorporate strength training to strengthen your muscles and improve overall performance; as well as to prevent injuries.
What if I hate running and gyms?
In my time as a trainer I have found one thing to be true: you need to find exercise you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy running, try playing squash. If you get bored after 30 minutes, try interval training. If you’re stuck in a hotel room, do a body weight workout. Explore the world of fitness! There are so many ways to get your exercise in; it’s just about finding what works for you.
Keep reading our blog for posts about interval training versus steady state cardio, a more in depth post on doing cardio for fat loss, fitness etc. and more!
And always remember-you don’t HAVE to work out, you GET to work out!
By Chanel Serfontein