Why you shouldn’t give up on cardio

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Posted on: 30 January 2019 by David Koller

Have you ever felt the dread that comes with the knowledge that the next part of your training routine is a 10-minute cardio session?

Contrary to popular opinion, cardio is not a demon in the form of exercise sent from hell to torture you until you die. Believe it or not, cardio is your friend. Many people avoid it because it does require a lot from our bodies, and it doesn’t do much for muscle definition. Still, it does serve other purposes. Here are the most important reasons why you shouldn’t just skip your cardio session.

1. It reduces the risk of heart disease

If you are facing a heightened risk of heart disease, cardio is definitely not something you should avoid. It regulates your blood pressure and cholesterol, and it helps the heart pump blood more strongly and efficiently. Cardio makes heart itself stronger, and in general, it lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you fall under the high-risk category, consider 30-40 minutes cardio sessions 3 or 4 times a week.

2. It strengthens your immune system

Research shows that exercise increases the levels of immunoglobulins in the blood. These antibodies influence your immune system in a good way, which makes you more resilient. Therefore, if you find yourself getting colds more often than before, it might be the time to start some cardio routine.

3. It improves your cognition

As we grow old, our brain loses some of its mass. That causes us to become forgetful and interferes with all cognitive functions, including attention, orientation, and language. Luckily, research shows that exercise, especially cardio, makes this process slower and allows us to keep our wits about us for a longer time. It can even slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease. So if you know that you have a genetic predisposition to it, make sure you start your cardio regimen as soon as possible.

4. It aids sleep

Cardio can help you sleep better. If you have insomnia, or you just have trouble falling asleep, a good bedtime routine combined with cardio workouts a few times a week should sort out the problem. It will make you calmer, so you’ll fall asleep more easily, and it will improve the quality of your sleep. Still, make sure to finish your workout at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, the excitement in your system can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

5. It can be fun

Cardio is not just jogging or jumping while waving your arms around. If you're not keen on those types of exercise, consider brisk walking or cycling. You can do it with friends and family while being able to have a conversation with them at the same time. Cycling can be especially wonderful, as it allows you to go further and longer, and if you live in a beautiful area it may be particularly rewarding. Still, don't forget to take precautions. Make a point of always having a hydration pack at hand. Even though it can be fun, it’s still a lot of work for your body, so you should make sure it is always properly hydrated.

6. It’s cheap

Gym memberships can be costly sometimes, and buying equipment for workouts can be a real strain on your wallet. However, jogging is free, and cycling too, provided you already have a bike. If you don’t, it’s still less expensive than the alternatives. Other options include cardio workouts available on the internet for free, or buy a monthly ticket for a nearby pool. No matter how you look at it, cardio is probably the cheapest form of exercise. It’s always available, and, other than swimming, it doesn’t depend on the work hours of gyms and training schedules.

7. It boosts your mood

Even a single session of cardio can really make you feel better in the emotional and psychological sense. A couple of weeks of regular exercise were shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It helps you deal with stress and puts you in a better overall mood. Therefore if you’ve been feeling stressed out lately, a few cardio workouts might be just what the doctor ordered.

8. It helps with weight issues

If you are overweight, chances are that you already know what you need to do – adjust your diet and start exercising. However, a study showed that you can keep your current diet and still lose weight – if you commit to intense cardio 5 times a week. Participants in the study lost about 400-600 calories in each session, which is equivalent to a 4-mile walk or jog. So, if you can’t deny yourself that bowl of pasta or just can’t resist a gorgeous sundae, don’t worry. Hope is not lost – a nice long walk will deal with that for you.

Even though it may seem annoying and (quite frankly) so unbelievably difficult, cardio is actually extremely beneficial. After all, what does it matter how much you can lift if you can't keep your breath steady after climbing to the second floor?

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