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How Important is Doing Cardio?

People typically lie on opposite ends of the spectrum in their relationship with cardio exercise. Our physical therapists at Made 2 Move have a lot of clients that are avid runners and love their cardio! But then there are those who dread cardio. Common between both groups, however, is the boredom experienced with traditional cardio workouts. How can we make cardio enjoyable? Highlighted below are some favorite Made 2 Move tips on how to break up the monotony of traditional cardio.

First off, what is “cardio”?

Cardio is just any workout that makes me breathe hard and sweat a ton, right? Almost, but not quite. Let’s dive into what cardio actually is. “The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines cardio as “aerobic exercise as any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously and is rhythmic in nature” (Patel et. al 2017).

Cardio is used to describe any exercise that is aerobic, meaning it utilizes oxygen to produce energy for the body. The body uses energy to fuel the large muscle groups such as the quads and hamstrings, required for activities like running long distances. Traditional cardio is rhythmic, in terms of an athlete’s ability to sustain a pace and movement, what runners often describe as “getting in a groove” during a run. During cardio exercise, we are looking for an elevation in heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.

All forms of fitness have a cardiovascular component, just to varying degrees. Cardiovascular simply means working the heart and blood vessels, and when you exercise, aerobically or anaerobically, your heart rate increases which naturally provides this stimulus of cardiovascular work.

What if I dread doing cardio?

For our Made 2 Move athletes that do not enjoy aerobic exercise, there is good news. Research has shown a U-shaped curve between aerobic exercise and mortality rates. This U-shaped curve illustrates that you only need a little bit of cardio to reap the benefits!

A 2015 study found that 1-2.4 hours of moderate-low intensity jogging is an optimal dose for promoting longevity. The study states, “light and moderate joggers have low