You can’t hit the gym without a game plan and expect to get real results. This is why having a personal trainer is crucial for developing an exercise program that’s tailored to fit you. First, let’s focus on the benefits of cardio for weight loss and how much cardio per day is needed.
Cardio is a vital component of any workout routine, whether you want to improve overall fitness, shed extra pounds, or just look and feel healthier.
Originally known as cardiovascular exercises, their primary purpose is to help raise your heart rate. Why is this important? Our bodies are designed to be agile and in continuous motion. So it’s impossible to stay in peak physical shape by leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Remember, a strong cardiovascular system means that your blood vessels will be able to deliver more oxygen to your muscle cells. This allows cells to burn fat both during physical activity and while you’re in a resting state. Other benefits of cardio include:
- Feeling great — studies have shown that cardio can help cure depression due to the massive endorphin release in your bloodstream during exercise
- Better sleep
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved sex life
- A boost in self-confidence from feeling better on the inside and looking better on the outside
- Decreased chance for heart attack, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and some forms of cancer
- Increased bone density (through strength training exercises)
- Burning fat and calories
- Increased lung capacity and a stronger heart
- Setting a good example for your family to live healthy
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Results from cardio workouts vary based on intensity, individual strength, and combined resistance training — not to mention, your own personal health. Read on for some of the most commonly asked questions about cardio:
How much cardio should I do?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per day. However, more cardio doesn’t necessarily lead to faster weight loss, and can actually cause muscle trauma or injury.
If opting for a high-intensity routine, ask your trainer to include interval training so you can make the most of your workout session. Don’t forget to stay hydrated while exercising, especially during cardio.
How often should I do cardio?
You can choose to do anywhere from three to five days of cardio per week. It’s easy to incorporate cardio exercises at any time, even on the days you’re not going to the gym. Keep in mind, though, there are other ways to maximize your results through high and low-intensity routines.
Most importantly, always allow your body enough time to recover, and don’t overdo it. Also, remember that exercising while on your period is fine as long as you stick to cardio and weights, but steer clear of high-intensity programs.
Despite what some may say, starving yourself and doing intense cardio will not speed up weight loss. That is a dangerous myth which will only create unhealthy habits.
So how much cardio is too much? By upping your cardio to between 60 and 75 minutes a day, you could wind up losing all the lean muscles you’ve developed. Furthermore, excessive muscle loss can lead to serious medical complications such as renal failure. Exercise in moderation, eat well, and practice living a healthy lifestyle that is not centered on weight loss.
Working out is a goal-driven process that requires a lot of patience and perseverance. If you think of it as a never-ending chore, then you won’t enjoy it or get the results you’re looking for. Doing more than the required time for cardio to achieve your goals sooner is a bad idea. Too much exercise can cause physical trauma and other health issues like hormonal imbalance.
How will doing cardio affect my diet?
Nutrition plays a vital role in any cardio weight loss program. Just because you’re killing it at the gym with cardio doesn’t mean you can eat everything in sight! Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Effective weight loss is the product of discipline, determination, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fiber and protein, and always stay hydrated. Follow these steps and you’ll see and feel the difference much sooner.
No matter what your goal, exercise should be fun and enjoyable. Whether it’s leaner muscles or a thinner body, there is no quick and easy shortcut to whatever you’re looking for. Start with a realistic plan and strive towards your weight loss goals with better nutrition and cardio exercises that contribute to a healthier overall lifestyle.