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Fitness » Cardio » Cardio Workouts: Benefits, Frequency, and Exercises

Cardio Workouts: Benefits, Frequency, and Exercises

Cardio Workout

What is a cardio workout?

A cardio workout is a type of high-intensity exercise  that raises your heart rate, aids in weight loss, and strengthens your heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system. Along with those benefits, research has also shown that cardio workouts can benefit your brain (1), lower blood sugar, decrease risk for chronic diseases, and improve mood and sleep (2).

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What is HIIT cardio?

HIIT cardio is similar to typical cardio exercise in that it involves exercises that are designed to raise the heart rate. The difference between the two, is that HIIT exercise is designed to do a large amount of work in a very short amount of time. HIIT workouts accomplish this by combining periods of very high intensity exercise followed by equal or lesser periods of rest. These workouts are often timed to keep individuals on task as well as an elevated heart rate. Popular HIIT workout timed schemes include rounds of 60/30 (60 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest), 40/20 (40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest), and 30/15 (30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest).

A woman running

What exercises to perform?

Walking, jogging, and jumping rope are the most common cardio exercises, but there are several other cardio exercises you can do to achieve a healthy and toned look. Below are five other popular cardio exercises:

1. Plank jacks

To perform this exercise you should start in a plank position. Make sure your core is tight, jump your feet apart, and then bring your feet  back to the starting position. It is very important to keep your abs engaged throughout the movement to put the workload on your abs and not your spine. Depending on your individual fitness level, perform this move for 20-60 seconds for  3 rounds.

2. Jogging in place

If you like jogging, but can’t get outside, this is a good exercise for you to get the same benefit while staying indoors. This simple exercise doesn’t demand equipment and is very effective. To perform this exercise, perform your regular job but stay in place. For best results, perform with running shoes on. Depending on fitness level, perform this move for 30-60 seconds for  3 rounds.

3. Squat jumps

To perform, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat while swinging your arms back, then swing them back up, and jump! Carefully get back to the starting position and repeat. Make sure to engage your core throughout the movement to support the spine.  Depending on fitness level, perform this move for 20-30 seconds for 3 rounds.

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4. Burpees

To perform, start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.  Then, squat while placing your hands on the floor in front of you and then kick your legs out into the plank position. Once in the plank position, perform a pushup, then return to the squat position, and jump with your arms up. Depending on fitness level, perform this move for 20-30 seconds for 3 rounds.

5. Mountain climbers

Start in a plank position. Bring one knee to your chest, get back to the previous position, and then repeat with the opposite knee. Depending on fitness level, perform this move for 20-30 seconds for  3 rounds.

The variety of cardiovascular exercises is quite wide. You can perform them outside, at home, or at the gym. With all the different options, you are bound to find something that works for you! (3).

A man doing burpees

FAQs

How many cardio workouts should I do per week to lose weight?

Training three times a week for approximately 20 minutes a day is appropriate to achieve results such as weight loss, muscle toning, and overall health (4). However, it may seem like a lot for the very beginners, so to start out with what would be attainable for them (i.e. 1-2 times a week for however long) and work up to the 3 days a week for 20 minutes is definitely nice idea. Sometimes, if a person has never performed exercise before, jumping into it at 3 days a week can be a lot for them, so it is good to start with what will be realistic for them and work up to that amount.

How to perform cardio at home?

It can be difficult to perform jogging, swimming, and jumping rope at home. However, other cardio exercises, including those from the list above, are equally effective and can easily be performed at home. You don’t need special equipment or much space, but it is important to wear shoes to perform the exercises safely and correctly at home.

What should I eat after cardio?

To build and strengthen muscle, the best option is to consume food with a high amount of protein after exercise. It is generally recommended to eat 45-60 minutes after performing your workout.

However, it is not as imperative to eat food immediately after exercise if you did eat 1-2 hours before working out as this meal will promote muscle growth in your body even after a workout. It is, however,  important to drink at least 8 ounces of water after working out due to your body losing a large amount of fluid during the workout.

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Conclusion

As you can see, cardio exercises are one of the best exercises you can do to lose weight. They can be performed at home and you don’t need equipment except for shoes. Remember to perform all the moves carefully and correctly. Don’t forget to get the best effect you should combine cardio workouts with other types of exercises and a healthy diet. A perfect balance of physical activity and healthy food is all it takes for you to achieve your dream body and a healthy lifestyle.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Aerobic Exercise Increases Hippocampal Volume in Older Women with Probable Mild Cognitive Impairment: A 6-Month Randomized Controlled Trial (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Cardio Exercise: Good for More Than Your Heart (2019, webmd.com)
  3. Mix up your cardio routine with 3 quick makeovers (2017, mayoclinic.org)
  4. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Lana Woods

Lana Woods

Lana is an excellent writer driven largely by questions of health and mental well-being. She specializes in writing articles on both nutrition and exercise. Nothing brings her as much pleasure as helping others get their health back on track. In her works, she provides informative tips on how you can change your lifestyle for the better, develop healthy eating habits, and improve your well-being with the help of workouts. Besides, in recent years she became more interested in studying weight management, gearing her focus towards healthy weight loss approaches.

Laura VanTreese

Laura VanTreese

Hi! My name is Laura VanTreese. I am a professional nutritionist as well as personal trainer who has over 8 years of experience in the health and wellness world. I have worked in a variety of different settings as well as with a vast array of clientele. I worked primarily as a nutritionist in a public health setting working mainly with pregnant and postpartum women helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle while juggling the new demands of motherhood. I've also worked for several years as a personal trainer and have helped numerous clients create a sustainable healthy lifestyle through manageable healthy eating habits and regular exercise routines. My main goal in life is to help others achieve their health and wellness goals and I'm so happy to have this platform to be able to do just that! :)

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