Apr 032010

Everyone generally acknowledges the importance of regular exercising in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, there are different types of exercises, and they all benefit your body in different ways. Some are aimed at strengthening you, some help define your muscles. Some exercises though have the primary goal of burning fat from your organism. This is what’s commonly referred to as “cardio” exercises.

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular”, which is derived from the fact that those exercises stimulate mainly your heart and blood vessels. Cardio exercises are usually aerobic ones – or in other words, they put a strong emphasis on proper breathing techniques. Cardio exercises have several main positive effects on your organism if performed regularly – they stimulate your metabolism and make it more effective, helping you lose weight; they strengthen your heart and blood vessels and improve blood circulation; and they also develop your lungs and can help improve their capacity.

The most classic example of cardio is jogging – it’s available to anyone (mostly), and even if the weather doesn’t allow you to do it outdoors, you can always invest in a treadmill and practice at home – it’s just as efficient, not to mention time-saving. Another good type of cardio is bicycle riding, though that may take a bit longer to kick in, as it doesn’t strain your body to such a great extent like jogging does.

In order to maintain good progress when doing cardio though, the most important thing to remember is timing. Your body needs some time to get started and adjust itself to the sudden increase in strain. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes on average – after that, your metabolism is working at its maximum pace and any second spent continuing the exercise attributes to your weight loss greatly. For this reason, most instructors recommend that you perform cardio for 20 minutes straight – 15 minutes as a threshold for your metabolism to activate, and the remaining 5 minutes to actually reap the benefits.

You’ll certainly notice a lot of changes in your body after doing cardio for some time – and they’ll all be positive. For example, your lung capacity will increase over time, and you’ll find yourself running out of breath less and less often – whereas you’ll probably be huffing and puffing before your 20 minutes are over in the beginning, after a few months you’ll feel like you’re just warming up from such a session.

One of the best ways to boost the benefits of your cardio is to throw in some short periods of hugely increased strain – for example, in the case with jogging, make short bursts of sprinting, for 10-20 seconds. Don’t overdo it as that’ll quickly drain your energy, but try to do it at least a few times during your workout. It can also be very useful for spending your last remaining bits of energy at the end of the workout session.

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