Medical research has long proven that with proper diet and exercise, a person can improve health and well-being. The merits of regular exercise range from preventing chronic health conditions to maintaining a healthy body weight, and are hard to ignore. The benefits of regular exercise can be experienced at any age, gender or physical ability.
Exercise is a great way to blow off steam after a hard day, put the spark back into sexual activity, experience better sleep, strengthen the heart and lungs, combat chronic diseases and maintain weight. However, there is also something to be said about the many benefits that can be experienced from cardiovascular exercises and participating in aerobics to experience loss of body fat.
The term “cardiovascular exercise,” is the same thing as aerobic exercise, some people refer to it as simply cardio for short. Aerobic exercises involve or improve oxygen consumption by the body and use the oxygen in the process of energy or metabolism. There are many different types of aerobic exercises which are performed at moderate intensity levels for specific periods of time. Typically an aerobic exercise session includes a warm-up session, followed by approximately 20 minutes of intense exercises which involve large muscle groups, followed by a cool down period at the very end.
Forms of Cardiovascular Workout
There are different types of cardiovascular workouts which can be done indoors or outdoors and include the following activities:
- Stair climbing
- Stationary bicycle
- Indoor rower
- Elliptical trainer
- Stairmaster etc.
- Cross-country skiing
- Nordic walking
- Inline skating
- Swimming etc.
- Jump roping
- Running etc.
When is it Most Effective to do Cardiovascular Exercise?
If you want to lose weight, doing cardiovascular exercises first thing in the morning, before eating, is the most effective time. When a person does a cardiovascular exercise workout, calories are burned. If a person were to get up first thing in the morning and eat a meal full of carbohydrates and then proceed to work out, the exercises performed will burn the calories from the meal. However, when cardiovascular exercise is performed prior to eating a meal the body burns stored fat and as a result, burns calories.
It does not matter which type of cardiovascular exercise is chosen, doing the routine first thing in the morning allows for maximum calorie burning and fat loss. When the human body realizes there are no carbohydrates to burn as a fuel source, the body goes directly into stored fat to get the fuel it needs to workout. Working out first thing in the morning doing high intensity cardiovascular exercises will give a person more energy throughout the day and result in more consistent calorie burning.
Frequency and Duration of Cardiovascular Exercise
Depending upon the reason for doing cardiovascular exercise, the frequency and duration are a personal choice. For maximum weight loss, most fitness experts recommend working out for a period of 60 minutes at moderate intensity, 3-5 times a week. An average beginner may need to start working out at a lower level of intensity and gradually increase the duration and frequency as the fitness level increases. For a novice, experts recommend starting a workout program for 20 minutes, 3 times a week and increasing the duration gradually each week. For an intermediate or novice fitness buff, trainers recommend a cardiovascular exercise program 4-6 times per week, varying the workout length and switching up the routines, intensity and duration to experience the most effective weight/fat loss results.
Experts recommend a person consult with a physician prior to beginning any type of exercise program. While working out, a person should keep track of the intensity level and their targeted heart rate. Other important things to remember when working out are to warm up and cool down during each workout, perform stretching exercises after the workout, drink a lot of water during the workout and eat a small, balanced snack prior to hitting the gym.
The Difference between Cardio for Men and Women
Whether a person is doing cardiovascular exercise for strength training, weight loss or fat burning there is a program that is perfectly tailored to each purpose. When doing cardio for fat burning purposes, calorie for calorie, cardiovascular exercise is the best method to use. On average a person will burn between 8-10 calories per minute when lifting weights, compared to the 10-12 calories per minute burned when running or cycling or doing some other form of intense cardiovascular exercise.
Weight lifting gives a person a metabolic spike for approximately an hour after working out because the body is trying to help the muscles recover. When translated, it means a person will burn an extra 25% of calories, in addition to the calories burned during strength training. If a person lifts heavier weights and has no rest period between repetitions, the amount of calories burned increases even more.
The main differences between weight/strength training and cardiovascular exercise with light weights are not just the results a person will experience. When doing weight/ strength training for muscle building purposes a heavier weight is used and fewer repetitions are done. While on the other hand when doing cardiovascular exercises in combination with weights, the weights weigh less and more repetitions are involved.
According to fitness surveys, men prefer doing weight/strength training for muscle building and definition purposes, while women primarily do cardiovascular exercises for toning and fat burning results.
Regular incorporation of a cardiovascular exercise routine helps prevent a wide variety of health disorders and diseases such as heart attack, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity. In addition to the many healthful benefits, a person who exercises regularly will experience more energy, higher endurance, less stress, better sleep, burn more calories and be better able to control weight. When used in combination with strength/weight training, the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise are further enhanced.