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Health and Fitness News

Bless Your Heart

Eight reasons why cardio exercise is good for you.

What do running, hiking, rowing, swimming, and kickboxing have in common? They’re all cardio workouts. Also known as aerobic exercise, cardio or cardiovascular exercise should play an integral part in your exercise routine.

Aerobic exercise means exercise with oxygen. As you move your body, your heart rate increases and you breathe faster in order to provide your muscles with sufficient amounts of oxygen. A balanced workout routine includes strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardio. Interestingly, strength training and flexibility workouts can be considered cardio if you’re breathing hard and your heart rate is increased while you’re doing them.

You may not like breaking a sweat, but regular cardio exercise is important for health and wellness. Here’s why.

1. It Improves Fitness

Are you out of breath after climbing one flight of stairs? Do you feel like sitting down after carrying in the groceries? Then you need more cardio in your life. You may not care about running a marathon, but cardio exercise increases your aerobic capacity and gets you in shape so everyday activities are easier.

2. It Burns Calories

Cardio paired with a healthy diet are your keys to weight loss. Physical activity requires energy. When your body uses energy it burns calories, which leads to weight loss. High-intensity interval training with cardio exercise is your fastest way to burn calories. You know you’re exercising at the right intensity if you’re exercising in your target heart rate zone.

3. It Strengthens Your Heart

You’ve probably heard that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Did you know that cardio exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy? As you exercise your heart, it becomes stronger and doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood. Cardio exercise lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, high cholesterol, and other heart conditions.

4. It Boosts Mood

Feeling down, anxious, or irritable? Instead of turning to food or unhealthy coping mechanisms, go for a walk or run. Cardio exercise is just as good for your mental health as your physical health. Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it may be as effective at improving symptoms of depression and anxiety as medication. It does this by releasing brain chemicals called endorphins that make you feel better about life. Exercise is also a great distraction from negative thoughts.

5. It Manages Stress

Chronic unmanaged stress takes its toll on your mind and body. High levels of cortisol contribute to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, and weight gain. Thankfully, you don’t have to let stress have its way with you. Exercise is a proven way to manage stress before it causes negative health problems.

6. It Increases Self-Confidence

Tired of feeling less than and left out? Make cardio exercise a regular part of your everyday routine, and you’ll notice a boost in your self-confidence. Losing a few pounds, toning muscle, gaining energy, and adopting a healthy hobby are all ways to make you feel better about yourself and your appearance.

7. It Strengthens Bones

You’ve got one set of bones that will hopefully last you a lifetime. A great way to take care of your bones is with weight-bearing cardio exercise. Working against a form of resistance strengthens and builds bones. With increased bone density you’re less likely to develop brittle bones or osteoporosis. You can do this with bodyweight exercises, lifting weights, or using weight machines at the gym.

8. It Relieves Arthritis

Stiff, achy joints may slow you down, but don’t let them keep you from exercise. Low-impact cardio workouts such as walking or swimming are an effective way to relieve the pains of arthritis.