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Why is cardio exercise so important?

Getting fit and active has never been more popular in Ireland, with new exercise trends coming on the scene all the time. With all this choice, it can be a little difficult to know what to go for if you’re just setting off on your fitness journey.

No matter where you are in the process of getting active, cardio should be a cornerstone of everyone’s fitness routine.

What exactly is cardio anyway?

Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise. It’s also commonly referred to as aerobic exercise. At its simplest, cardio is movement that raises your heart rate. This can be high or low impact – don’t worry, cardio doesn’t have to mean really intense training.

What kinds of exercise count as cardio?

Any medium to long distance exercise such as running, jogging, brisk walking, cycling and swimming is considered cardio. Some other examples to try include jumping jacks, circuit training, skipping rope, an elliptical machine and activities like kickboxing. Sports with lots of running, such as soccer or tennis, are also great options to get your heart rate up regularly.

Why is it good for you?

The list of positives associated with regular cardio is long. Just a few of the many benefits include:

● Strengthens your heart muscles, improving your resting heart rate

● Strengthens the muscles that help you breathe, increasing airflow in and out of the lungs

● Improves your circulation and reduces blood pressure

● Helps increase red blood cell count, meaning oxygen can travel around the body better

● Mental health benefits, including lowering stress

● Reduces risk of diabetes

● Improves sleep quality

● Weight loss (with a balanced diet)

Are there any types of people who should avoid cardio?

Unless you are injured or at risk of injury, cardio really is for everyone, as much as your own personal ability allows.

For children and young people, 60 minutes of moderately intensive activity daily is recommended. For adults, that’s 30 minutes around 5 times a week – but short periods of 10 minutes can be accumulated. For older people, 30 minutes, 5 days a week is advised as ability allows.

Want to read more about fitness, running and healthy lifestyles? Find more here.