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The Truth about Cardio

Cardio or CV (cardiovascular work) is anything that raises the heart rate - and quite often keeps it there. So for instance, running, swimming, aerobics, dancing, horse riding, rowing and cycling all count as cardio exercises.

My favourite cardio is in fact running, and it is the first thing I ever did when I first got into exercise. For many people it’s the go-to when they think of exercise - and the sweaty endorphin-high afterwards. And for many others, it’s also their worst nightmare.

Here are some things we need to know about cardio:

1. YOU can do it.

Many people write it off because running = cardio = injury for them. But that’s not to say there isn’t a form of cardio that won’t suit you. It doesn’t have to be running. It WILL feel very difficult at first (what new thing doesn’t?!), but you’ll get better at it.

2. Most people would benefit from a season of building a stronger cardio base.

Whether we want to keep up with the kids, still be able to enjoy walks in our old age, or simply get up the stairs without getting out of breath, most of us would enjoy the benefits of a stronger cardio base. Don’t underestimate what greater endurance and stamina might give to your life.

3. Cardio is not about burning fat, or getting in the ‘fat-burning ‘ zone.

Women are in fact more geared towards using fat anyway as an energy source than men, but that’s more likely to be activated, for example, by walking for a very long period (e.g. 4-6 hours). Cardio is about heart health. And a strong healthy heart is what I think many of us would agree is a good idea! It can add to our calorie expenditure of the day, but if you’re interested in fat loss, you’d be better prioritizing weight lifting!

4. VOLUME THEN TEMPO. I see most people get this wrong!

First of all, slow down and build how long you’re going for or the total time/distance over a week. If you’re engaging in cardio that is leaving you puffing and panting all the time, you’re probably not getting the most out of your training AND risking injury more. Most of your cardio training should be done at a pace that is slow enough to hold a conversation. Don’t build volume and tempo at the same time (injury alert!!). Once you’re at the duration/volume you want, then start to add in the faster, higher intensity stuff (if the stress levels in your life complement this).

5. You can do it at home.

Try skipping, walking up the stairs, pacing around the room, dance, aerobics and/or boxing videos. You don’t have to do just one thing for a workout, you could combine multiple of these to make up a varied, longer workout.

What’s your favourite form of cardio?

What else would you like to know about training cardio?

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