WHAT IS CARDIO?
Cardio are exercises that get your heart rate up to your target heart rate zone (the zone where you can burn the most fat and calories safely). Your increased heart rate will mean that your muscles will require more blood and oxygen than normal which in turn will cause your heart and lungs to work harder to keep up with your body’s requirements. Over time, if you continue to do cardio, this will strengthen your heart and lungs and will improve your blood and oxygen flow.
HOW MUCH CARDIO SHOULD I DO?
You should aim to have at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, for example, a brisk walk for 30 per day, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise. You might want to split this up into three 25 minute sessions and have a 48-hour break between each session to avoid injury. Long periods of rest is only necessary for intense cardio workouts, you can perform moderate exercises daily.
If your aim is to lose weight, 60 minutes of exercise per day can help towards that, however, you should speak to your doctor to get more specific information about your health condition and exercise guidelines.
To maintain a healthy body weight, aim to have between 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week or 150 to 300 minutes per week overall to keep your form balanced.
You should aim to balance your cardio days with your strength days, the balance that you have depends on your individual goals, but in general, plan for 3 strength days and 2 cardio days for week one, and then 2 strength days and 3 cardio days for week two. Make sure that you have at least one rest day per week. Once you have a routine going, you can then increase or decrease the days/time you spend on strength and cardio to suit your needs.
CAN I DO TOO MUCH CARDIO?
Anything can be bad if done in excess, including cardio. We have listed a few tell-tale signs below that could indicate that you are overdoing your cardio training.
- Decreasing interest for exercising
- Exercise should be a fun activity as well as work, but if you are doing too much your body’s exhaustion can take the fun out of it. This could be a sign to tone it down.
- Exercises are becoming more difficult
- If you are performing exercises that were once easy without changing any variants, then this could be a sign that you are overtraining and your body does not have enough time to rest and recover. Though it is normal to have off days, it should not be happening consistently.
- Muscle soreness
- It’s fine to have a slight ache after working out, but if you have pain or soreness that lingers for a long time after you’ve finished your workout, then that is not a good sign. Prolonged soreness is not a good thing – it should not be mistaken for a good workout session.
- No energy
- Exercise should increase your energy but if you have the opposite effect and you feel drained even when you are resting, you are doing too much. You have not given yourself time to recharge your body.
- Painful joints
- Cardio can be hard on your joints, especially if you are performing the go-to cardio exercise – running. If your joints start to hurt you are overreaching. Tone down on the exercise and speak to a professional to give you specific advice.
- Poor sleep
- Exercising can improve your sleep dramatically, helping you feel fresh and awake. However, if you are finding that the opposite is happening and your sleep is getting worse, then reduce the amount of cardio you are doing and take it easy.
WHAT CARDIO EXERCISES ARE THERE?
There are all sorts of exercises you can perform to include in your cardio days. For example, star jumps and burpees. But you can have excellent cardio sessions, on a treadmill, bike or an elliptical machine. There are many other ways to do cardio, you can take a number of classes including spin, Zumba, dance or HIIT or go for a swim in your local swimming pool. The choice is yours!