Nearly every single person is aware that exercise is important for optimal health. But most don’t really understand why.
Most believe that exercise is good for them because they know that sitting in the couch isn’t. But to truly understand the benefits of exercise, you need to be able to know how the body benefits from the added stress placed on your muscles, heart and lungs.
Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is one of the most popular forms pursued by individuals who would like to see significant changes in their overall levels of health.
Cardio is inexpensive, can be done just about anywhere, often times with minimal equipment and has many proven health benefits.
One of the most powerful reasons to pursue an exercise routine that focuses on cardiovascular fitness is that cardio is actually great for your mind.
Yes, your mind benefits from cardio.
When your body engages in cardio, it triggers the release of key hormones inside of your brain. One of the first to be released is serotonin, the next to be improved is dopamine (the happy hormone) along with norepinephrine, which influences attention, perception, motivation and arousal.
Cardio when done in moderation (i.e. not to excess or overtraining) can also help to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol in the body are believed to be responsible for many of the chronic diseases many people suffer from.
Not to mention cardio helps to improve metabolic function through improved insulin sensitivity.
If you want to lose weight, then cardio is one of the better methods for making that happen.
With increased insulin sensitivity and increased glucose tolerance, the body becomes a more efficient fat-burning machine, which can obviously have profound affects on your waistline.
And ultimately one of the most appreciated effects of cardio is its ability to improve cardiovascular health. According to The Journal of American Society of Hypertension:
Physical activity seems to enhance cardiovascular fitness during the course of the lifecycle, improve blood pressure, and is associated with decreased prevalence of hypertension and coronary heart disease. It may also delay or prevent age-related increases in arterial stiffness. In summary, aerobic exercise (30 to 40 minutes of training at 60% to 85% of predicted maximal heart rate, most days of the week) appears to significantly improve blood pressure and reduce augmentation index. Aerobic exercise seems to better benefit blood pressure and vascular function.
With heart disease coming in as one of the top killers in the United States and many other industrialized nations, this alone should send you running for the treadmill.
Remember too that cardio can be over-done.
There are numerous studies that show that cardio, when performed incorrectly, can lead to serious health problems.
So be sure to consult a physician before beginning an exercise routine, and always train for the recommended amount of time.