After a short hiatus I’m back and excited to talk about a topic that is an important part of my workout routine – cardio! But before I get to the benefits of adding – or augmenting – cardio to your fitness routine, let’s review some things that I had to be reminded of as I moved from an endurance athlete to a personal trainer.
At Fitness on the Run, you know we’re big believers in the virtues of strength training. And it’s been well documented that with regular strength training you’ll see greater fitness and health gains than you would with steady-state cardio sweat sessions. The research abounds.
Steady-state cardio (think: a 45-minute jog) burns calories not just from fat, but also from muscle. Strength workouts, however, build muscle and give you a metabolic spike for more than an hour after your workout. Down to the very metabolic level, your body burns fat more with strength and resistance training. That means you’ll fry an additional 25 percent of the calories you just scorched during your strength session.
Given the clear benefits of strength training over cardio, you might wonder if it’s even worth incorporating any cardio into your workout. My answer is an emphatic YES!!! — which should not be surprising coming from an endurance athlete. In a past life I might have even encouraged “all” cardio, but I, too, have learned the benefits of strength training and, more importantly, of having a balanced approach.
And here’s why…
Cardio workouts are beneficial because your heart and lungs have to work faster and harder than they do during strength sessions, meaning they become stronger and more efficient. Need scientific proof? Here you go: The American Journal of Cardiology pinpointed aerobic exercise as the most efficient form of exercise for improving cardiometabolic health (i.e., the kind of health that minimizes your chances of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke).
Making your heart and lungs stronger and more efficient has all sorts of benefits. Below are just a few examples of areas of your body that benefit from cardio exercise:
- Increases blood flow and decreases chances of stroke
- Improves memory and thinking ability
- Combats decline in brain functioning with age
- Helps control blood sugar
- Improves “good” cholesterol levels and lowers blood fats
- Increases oxygen supply, allowing muscles to work harder
- Allows muscles to adapt to an increased workload, making regular activities seem easier
- Helps decrease demands on lungs as exercise ability improves
- Helps reduce fatigue and shortness of breath in those chronic lung problems
- Who doesn’t have fun with a little cardio…after its over!
In addition to the physical benefits outlined above, regular cardio exercise can also help with stress relief by releasing tension-fighting hormones: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. You may find yourself in a better mood, especially after a stressful day, you’ll have more energy throughout the day, and when it is time to turn in for the evening, you’ll doze off faster (just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime or you’ll have a hard time winding down).
We’re turning up the heat this summer at FOR by adding three 5-week Summer Cardio program sessions. Sessions will be held Tuesday mornings at 6am and 7am starting May 29th. We will be offering additional sessions this summer running July 2nd through August 5th and August 6th through September 9th. Adrien aims to increase your heart rate, but she’ll show you how to perform movements the right way to avoid injury. Anyone can join, except those with current injuries. She will teach a few nutrition tips and share favorite recipes so you can eat right while you are turning up the volume of your workouts. You’ll get access to our library of Flows and favorite movements to do homework and you get a limited edition FOR tank top! Why would you hesitate!