What about Cardio? Part 1: Is It Possible To Improve Your Heart Health Without Doing Traditional Cardio Exercise?
Dr. James Fisher answers the question once and for all, do we really need to do exercises like running, cycling, and swimming to improve our cardio? Find out the truth about cardio exercises and cardiovascular health and why you should get off the treadmill and start doing resistance training right now.
- The fundamental question is “What is cardio?” Even people who have seen the results of the 20-minute routines delivered by the Exercise Coach still wonder what place cardio has in physical fitness.
- Historically people have perceived exercise to be going for a run or what we think of as traditional cardio. Usually this takes the form of long duration and low intensity and focuses on aerobic energy production.
- The accepted wisdom is that cardio is just activities like running and cycling, but the truth is that any activity can become cardio exercise if done at the correct intensity. Cardio also raises the idea that we need to perform prolonged exercise to get the result, but that’s not necessarily the case.
- The trouble is that duration doesn’t necessarily translate to improved fitness. Someone going for a 4-hour walk isn’t going to see the results they would see from an activity with a higher intensity level.
- Cardio activities like running, cycling, or swimming improve our heart health because of the sustained elevation of the heart rate. While that’s true and that process also makes the heart and muscles more efficient, but it’s really the act of having the heart rate elevated for an extended period of time that brings those results and it’s not reserved for traditional cardio exercises.
- It is possible to be fit while still having an unhealthy heart due to lifestyle choices. Studies have shown that it is better to be fit and fat, than unfit. People who are overweight and exercise have better health outcomes than people with a normal Body Mass Index who don’t exercise at all.
- Exercises that we perform that are a high enough intensity and frequency can more than counteract any of the other lifestyle risk factors. There is growing evidence that shows that effective exercise alone and improving fitness is powerfully prophylactic in terms of health and longevity.
- Even if you no longer see visible fitness increases from your exercise, you are still catalysing positive changes at a cellular level and prolonging and improving the quality of your life.
- Traditional cardio exercises are not necessary to become healthy. Strength training exercises have similar results to traditional cardio training with similar cardiovascular health benefits. It also comes with less risk of chronic joint pain.
- Don’t feel tied to an exercise modality. Studies have shown that people have seen increases in cardiovascular health and efficiency with only a simple 12-week strength training program.
- Resistance training is the superior choice because, in addition to the cardiovascular benefits, you also improve strength, bone density, and muscle mass. Improved muscle quality is a jackpot outcome because it has a ripple effect that leads to all of the systems of the body getting better when we optimize the health of our muscles.
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