It can definitely feel like your heart might be pounding out of your chest during the session, but do you do cardio? We know it’s important to target a combination of cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises over the course of an average week, but sometimes it’s hard to know which sports and activities fall into which category.
About 50 million Americans are avid runners, joggers, or joggers, and if you’re aiming to elevate your cardio, we’ve got good news: Running is a great form of cardio. Not only that, it is one of the best cardio exercises you can do when it comes to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, improving the quality of your sleep and boosting your cognitive functions.
Together with many The benefits of running (Opens in a new tab)It’s also a relatively inexpensive way to get your daily dose of exercise. While you can definitely invest in one of the The best grinders (Opens in a new tab) So you can work out in the comfort of your own home, as long as you have decent running shoes, you can wear the shoes and run anytime, anywhere.
What are cardio exercises?
“What sets cardio apart from other forms of exercise is the reliance on your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise,” explains Jack McNamara, a strength coach and lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology. “This use of oxygen, also known as aerobic metabolism, helps our bodies extract energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from amino acids, carbohydrates, and fatty acids to fuel our muscles, usually for longer activities. Which is why you will. Often You hear cardio being referred to as aerobic exercise – meaning oxygen.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously and is rhythmic in nature.” So technically, all types of physical activities are considered aerobic, regardless of intensity: riding Biking, dancing, hiking, swimming, and even walking.”
Jack McNamara (Opens in a new tab) He is a highly experienced strength trainer and lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology. Since starting his career in 2005, McNamara has trained numerous athletes, worked as a clinical exercise physiologist, and taught degree-level exercise science courses. His extensive experience was recognized last year when he became the first person to earn the degree of Head Coach (Europe) and Certified Practitioner (UK).
Most experts agree that in order to get the most from cardio, you should aim to move at moderate or higher intensity — you can gauge whether or not you’ve reached “moderate” intensity by being able to talk but not sing during exercise.
The benefits of cardio include improving heart health, helping to prevent or manage cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, and reducing symptoms of mental health problems like depression and anxiety—plus, hostility is hard to beat!
Does the heart work?
Yes, running is definitely a cardio workout.
“Not only does running use large muscle groups continuously and regularly, but it also makes our core work harder and requires us to use more oxygen to maintain it,” says McNamara.
“Unless working at a very high intensity, such as sprinting, running usually challenges our heart and lungs more than, or at least as much, our muscles—at least at the beginning of the run!”
How to improve cardio fitness
Working on your technique is one of the best ways to make yourself work harder and more safely while running.
“For most of us, running is something we’ve ‘just done’ since we were kids, so we don’t actively pay attention to our running posture, style, or cadence,” says McNamara.
“By shortening our steps and increasing our cadence – the total number of steps we take every minute – we can benefit from not only improved cardiovascular fitness but also a reduced risk of injury and a more efficient running technique that leads to improved performance.”
Jogging and anaerobic exercise
You can add some short and quick exercises like sprints to get some anaerobic exercise (Opens in a new tab).
“Anaerobic exercise is a physical activity that causes the body to break down glucose for energy without oxygen,” says McNamara. “This usually occurs inside the body when the demand for oxygen exceeds the supply. In general, these activities are of short length and high intensity.”
It can be a great way to get running to strengthen your bones, as well as increase your lactate threshold (allowing you to work harder for longer) and improve overall strength.
To increase the intensity of your workouts, McNamara recommends the following:
- Increase the number of sprint periods
- Shorten active recovery/rest periods
- Increase the duration of the hard part of your periods
- Change your terrain or add slopes
- Increase your speed