You’ll hear a lot about the benefits of strength training. While there are certainly many muscular and health benefits that cardio workouts don’t offer, there are various benefits that only cardio workouts can provide. You need to get a good mixture of both daily.
Cardio workouts involve running, swimming, rowing, etc. Anything that helps you get your heart rate up and work your lungs. It’s possible to combine both cardio and strength training together to get the best possible workout for your whole body.
If you don’t already, you need to make a cardio workout part of your daily routine. Here are 11 reasons why.
Improve the Health of Your Heart
We must focus on one of the biggest benefits of cardio. Remember that this type of workout works your heart and lungs, so it makes sense that the biggest benefit of all is to your heart. Your heart is a muscle, so it constantly needs a workout to remain strong and healthy. By doing more cardio workouts, you will have a better heart health.
By getting your heart pumping more, you improve the circulation around your system. You get more oxygen around your body, which helps to improve all the other organs. We’ll move onto those benefits soon.
The biggest benefit is that your heart is constantly being strengthened. It will work for the years to come, and you starve off complications like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and many more issues.
If you just wanted one reason to do more cardio, this is the reason. While strength training can help, it’s just not as good for getting your blood pumping.
Boost Your Metabolic Rate
All the processes in your body get a boost, which includes your metabolism. This is great for those who want to lose weight, but can also help to maintain a healthy lifestyle. After all, your metabolism is useful for more than just burning the calories you eat. Your metabolism helps to convert the calories, fat, and other components into energy to use throughout the day.
High-intensity cardio workouts are better for a metabolism boost compared to low-intensity workouts. However, both will offer health benefits. If you want to make the most of your workouts, try some high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) workouts.
Of course, when you increase your metabolism, you will lose more weight or find it easier to maintain weight. It’s much easier to create a calorie deficit.
Decrease the Amount of Belly Fat You Have
While your increased metabolism will help you lose weight, cardio workouts specifically help you lose that belly fat. All the crunches in the world aren’t going to get rid of the visceral fat. All you’re doing with the strength training is working on the muscles underneath the fat. This is good for the result and toning, but it doesn’t help while you’re struggling with around middle. Studies have even shown that ab-focused workouts alone aren’t good enough for getting rid of belly fat.
Visceral fat is the worst type of fat. It surrounds your organs and puts your health at more risk than other types of fat. You can find out just how much belly fat you have by measuring your waist at your belly button with a normal home measuring tape. You want to have a waist of 35in or less for a healthy abdomen area. Even if you’re not technically overweight according to the BMI scale, a waist larger than 35in is unhealthy.
Remember that by doing the cardio workout you’re burning more calories. Your metabolism will need to use the store calories in the fat for more energy, helping you get rid of this specific fatty area. Once you lose the weight from your stomach area, cardio exercises are effective in preventing future weight gain.
Studies are positive. They show that it’s possible to lose (on average) 2.5sq. In. Of belly fat by performing cardio workouts for eight months. This was in those who only did aerobic workouts. Those who combined saw 1.5 times less loss, and those who only did strength training saw 20 times less than their cardio counterparts.
Of course, losing the belly fat isn’t just about your cardio workout. You will need to follow a healthy, calorie-controlled diet. The good news is you’ll find this easier when you do more cardio because of other health benefits. This takes us onto the next health benefit.
Boost Your Mental Health and Happiness
Cardio workouts are excellent for your mental health. Studies have shown that those who do more exercise will fight off depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This is all linked to the release of endorphins and serotonin while you work out.
Opting for aerobic exercises helps to boost the blood flow around the body. It reduces the stress levels felt, which makes it easier for the brain to release the right hormones. By getting happy hormones out and around the body, people feel less fatigued, depressed and hungry.
This is another benefit that has been proven through studies. The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study that showed how 156 clinically depressed participants felt after a range of treatments. One group took antidepressants, one group cardio workouts, and one a mixture of the two. The results showed that cardio workouts were just as good as fighting against depression as the use of medication. Exercise is the natural antidepressant for those who want to avoid Big Pharma.
There’s no need to do a lot of cardio for this to be beneficial. Just 30 minutes a day is enough for all the mental health benefits. You don’t have to do this in one sitting but can space it out in 10-minute intervals throughout the day. What is important is getting the cardio workouts.
Of course, there are other natural ways to alleviate depression. Fresh air and sunlight are one. Try a cardio workout in the garden or go on a power walk or run in the fresh air to gain more benefits.
Improve Your Quality of Sleep
While there are many people who focus on the number of hours of sleep you get, the quality of sleep on a night you receive is also important. If your night is constantly broken, you don’t quite get the full recovery that your body needs.
The great news is cardio workouts help improve your quality of sleep—and the amount that you get. You’ll find it easier to fall asleep on a night and find that you don’t constantly wake up throughout the night.
Poor sleep is linked to stress. Your subconscious is constantly working against you when your stress levels are high. By getting a cardio workout, you’re reducing the amount of stress in your body. You get rid of the adrenaline, which helps to improve your ability to close your eyes and relax.
Poor sleep is also linked to obesity and depression. Both are tackled through cardio workouts, as we’ve already looked at.
But can’t you take a pill to help you sleep? Well, yes, there are some medications available but did you know they increase your risk of death? There are various health complications to using sleep medication, and it’s not the most effective for a clear and productive day the next morning. Cardio workout is healthier and far more beneficial overall.
Studies have shown that just getting 150 minutes of exercise a week will help improve quality sleep by 65%. You’ll also feel less fatigued and drowsy throughout the day, which moves us onto the next benefit.
Your Recovery Is Better
By getting a better night’s sleep, your body recovers better through the night. You will wake up rested and ready for another day.
But don’t your muscles ache? At first, they will. This is your body getting used to the workout that you’re performing. Eventually, your recovery rate will increase, and you’ll find that your muscles don’t ache as much as all.
In fact, cardio workouts the next day, even with some aching muscles, can help your recovery period. A light job helps to remove some of the lactic acid build up. It helps to stretch off the muscles and reduce the feeling of tightness and soreness.
You don’t have to wait until the next day either. A light jog after a strength workout will also help to loosen and improve your recovery time and avoid some pain the next day.
You also need to listen to your body. Pain due to injury is very different to aching muscles because you’re using ones that you forgot you had. If you feel pain (not an ache or tiredness) while exercising, you should stop and rest.
If you do get injured, you’ll find your overall recovery rate is quicker. Your muscles are healthier, along with the rest of your body. And yes, your recovery from an illness improves, and this moves us to the seventh benefit.
Improved Immune System
Let’s look at how your immune system benefits from a cardio workout. Did you know that cardiovascular activity improves the working of your lymph system? Your lymph nodes offer the ability to fight infection. They help to remove toxins from the body and keep you healthy overall. It makes sense that by improving your lymph system, your immune system improves.
You will also get the benefit of better quality sleep and lower stress levels. Stress can lead to your immune system working against you. It starts to attack something that isn’t there or just doesn’t work efficiently when attacking infections and viruses. You’re left constantly getting colds and viruses.
However, too much cardiovascular exercise can cause the opposite issue. You run the risk of injury and running your body down. If you don’t get enough rest and recovery between sessions, you run the risk of overpowering your immune system. It’s important to find that balance.
Reduce the Risk of or Control Your Diabetes
Diabetes is a major issue, especially in the Western world. The good news is doing more cardio exercise will help to improve your condition. You can avoid Type II diabetes completely and help to manage pre-existing diabetes.
When you work out more, your muscles will be able to utilize the glucose (blood sugar) in your body better. You’ll see lower blood sugar levels and less insulin, as your muscles find a way to expel the sugar instead. You’ll also experience fewer mood swings and less irritability.
You will still need to get your blood sugar levels checked. It’s important to follow medical advice from the doctor. However, you may find that you can reverse some of the damage. This is especially possible if you follow a healthy diet and manage your weight gain at the same time.
Improve the Way the Brain Works
It’s not just the hormones that change. The whole functioning of your brain will improve thanks to your cardio workout.
Remember that the amount of oxygen your brain gets improves. Your blood pumps faster, and you breathe in more oxygen on a daily basis.This means the connectors in your brain get all the oxygen they need.
You won’t feel as foggy or confused throughout the day. Your hippocampus increases, which means you’re learning and memory centers improve. You’ll find it easier to remember even the simplest things in life—like where you put your keys or phone.
Studies have shown that these benefits are clear in cardio workouts. The same benefits aren’t there in resistance or strength training. You want to take advantage of both types of training daily.
Improve Your Bone Health
It’s not just your organs that benefit from cardio workouts. Running and other cardio activities tend to get a bad reputation for the bone and joint health. There is certainly some potential damage, but there are also plenty of benefits. It all depends on how you do your aerobic exercises.
Osteoporosis is a problematic disease, particularly for older women. As you lose too much bone mass, your bones become weak and brittle. You’re more likely to injure or break a bone, even just from a minor fall.
While a good diet is important, the right exercises can also help to avoid osteoporosis. Studies have shown that a good warm-up, aerobic exercises, and a proper cool-down in the space of around 40 minutes can help to increase your bone mass. You’re at a much lower risk of injury and damage.
When you do cardio workouts, avoid running on pavement. Stick to grass and other soft surfaces or choose a low-impact workout that will protect your joints and overall health.
Improve Your Endurance in Life
How long can you walk up flights of stairs? How long can you last be running around after the kids? Your cardio abilities are affected by some aerobic exercises you do. If you want to increase your endurance in your everyday life, you will need to increase your cardio workouts.
Remember your heart and lungs are like muscles. The more you work them, the healthier they are. So, by doing more cardio workouts, you’ll help your heart and lungs deal with the amount of activity you need to do through the day. You’ll also find you can run/swim longer and faster in a few weeks or months’ time. The marathon may seem an impossible task now, but it will be easier with some training.
Improved endurance is also important for your metabolism. We’ve come full circle on the benefits.
Add More Cardio to Your Week
Start by adding just one or two more cardio sessions to your week. If you don’t currently do any exercise, you won’t want to do more than two days of exercise a week to start. Get your bones and muscles ready and allow your endurance to improve.
As you find the workouts easier, you can add more and train for longer. Eventually, you’ll be able to do a little cardio daily. You will even find your rest days can involve 15 minutes of walking or so to help strengthen the muscles and improve your mental health.
It’s time to add more cardio to your week. You will not regret it with the above 11 health benefits.