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Written by Morgan Schaack, RD, LD
on November 29, 2018

There are three main types of exercises: strength training, cardio, and stretching. Each of these is unique in their own way and are essential for maximizing your fitness level and preventing injury. You have probably heard that cardio is a great way to lose weight and get lean. Today I am going to dive into the basics of cardio and why it is so important, especially in conjunction with weight training and flexibility training. 

The Benefits of Cardio

Cardio is described as any exercise that raises your heart rate into your target heart rate zone for a sustained period of time. Thus, cardio is a great exercise if you want to burn fat and torch those calories. However, besides just burning calories, there are added benefits to doing regular cardiovascular exercises. 

  • Like I said above, cardio helps you burn calories and fat
  • Cardio strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of a heart attack and high blood pressure
  • Cardio releases "happy hormones"—aka endorphins—that relieve stress, anxiety, and depression 
  • Cardio, since it is a weight-bearing exercise, increases your bone density and decreases your risk of osteoporosis

benefits-of-cardio

So now that we know the benefits of cardio, what are the different types of cardio to choose from? 

The Types of Cardio Workouts

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There are many different ways you can elevate your heart rate, including walking, jogging, climbing stairs, doing the elliptical, biking, high intensity interval training, swimming, dancing, and more. So how do you know what the best cardio workout is? 

Choosing a cardio exercise is totally up to you. The main objective is to make sure you enjoy it and don't dread every minute of your workout. The elliptical and bike are great if you have joint pain, however they still work on activating the lower body muscles. On the contrary, running and climbing stairs can have a harsher impact on the joints, although they burn more calories per minute. 

So in conclusion, the type of cardio you choose is a personal preference. And you can always mix it up—walk one day and bike the next.

Creating an Action Plan

You don't just have to go to the gym to get a cardio workout in. Walk around your office building during work, go bike the local park, have a dance party in your room, or take a day hiking trip. Whatever it is, just be sure you are aiming for at least 30 minutes of cardio a day. Make it fun—it will make your weight loss a lot easier! 

If you are a Live Healthy MD patient, we offer workout classes every Monday and Wednesday at our Augusta office. Follow this link to sign up!

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