The human body is an amazing, complex machine. A body not cared for and exercised can become ill, leading to health problems. The most common physical ailments that can result from a lack of exercise include obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Hence, fitness is one of the most critical aspects of your health. It's what keeps your body running smoothly and your mind clear. And the best cardio exercises can strengthen all parts of your body, especially your heart and lungs.
Performing cardio exercises at home benefits the body’s cardiovascular, muscular, and circulatory systems. If you want to stay healthy and avoid illness, it's important that all three areas of your body system are well-exercised regularly.
You can easily fit cardiovascular exercises into your daily routine, and doing so will have a hugely positive impact on your body.
What Is Cardio?
Cardio or cardiovascular exercise is any form of physical activity that raises your heart rate and increases your breathing, strengthening your heart muscles, improving your cardiovascular system, and burning calories.
Cardio exercises can be done at any intensity and include walking, running, swimming, weightlifting, and rowing. You can do certain cardio exercises anywhere. Cardio exercises are good for boosting heart health, losing/maintaining weight, improving your health, and reducing stress.
There are two main types of cardiovascular exercise: Aerobic and Anaerobic.
1. Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that repetitively exercises large muscle groups in the body. It increases heart rate and oxygen utilisation by the body to produce energy. Aerobic exercise helps you use oxygen efficiently and improves circulation, eventually lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. It includes brisk walking, jogging, and cycling.
2. Anaerobic exercise is any activity that involves the conversion of glucose into energy without utilising oxygen- oxygen demand exceeds oxygen supply. Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of high-intensity activity, which raises your heart rate quickly and helps build lean muscle since glucose is available in muscles, movement of which is required for bursts of activity. This type of workout makes you breathe heavily and includes high-intensity interval training (HIIT), weight lifting, and sprinting.
Health Benefits of Cardio Exercises
1) Improves heart health
Cardio exercises can prevent the development and onset of many cardiovascular conditions. It improves blood flow and strengthens the walls of the heart.
2) Reduces risk for diabetes
Regular cardio exercises with proper diet can help lower blood sugar levels in people at risk for developing diabetes.
3) Increases energy level
Cardio exercises increase your body's capacity to use oxygen and burn fat. With time it leads to seasoning and conditioning of the body to have more energy throughout the day. Anaerobic exercises, in particular, increase the body’s glycogen reserves, giving more energy for physical activities.
4) Reduces cholesterol levels
Chemicals released while performing the best cardio exercises help reduce stress hormones like cortisol- high cortisol level increases the risk of high cholesterol levels (which can cause cardiovascular disease).
5) Regulates blood flow
One of the main benefits of cardio exercises is that they increase blood flow throughout your body, which allows your heart to pump more oxygen-rich blood through your arteries and veins to all body parts. This increased circulation helps flush out toxins from your muscles and organs, improving their function and decreasing their daily workload.
6) Improves mood
When you do cardio exercises regularly, especially at higher intensities like sprinting or jogging, your body releases endorphins—the feel-good chemicals that cause euphoria and happiness.
7) Fights Stress
Cardio exercises reduce stress levels and help you unwind, so you'll feel calmer and more at ease when you're finished with your cardio session for the day.
8) Improve endurance and stamina
When you do regular cardio exercises, you'll find that your endurance and stamina increase over time. This means you'll be able to work harder for longer periods without feeling exhausted or tired.
9) Boost cognitive function
Researchers have found that people who engage in regular cardio exercise have better memory and cognitive function than people who don’t. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that even just one hour of cardio exercise per week slowed down cognitive decline in older adults.
10) Help in Weight loss
When done regularly, cardio exercises can help with weight loss. Increasing your heart rate and burning calories during exercise can help you shed pounds over time.
11) Better sleep
Cardio exercises can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress levels and helping you relax after a hard day at work or school. This makes it easier for your body to get into the deep sleep phase needed for restful night's sleep!
How Often and for How Long should you do Cardio Exercises?
The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 150 and 75 minutes, respectively, each week, combined with a healthy diet. This can be broken up into 30 minutes a day, five times a week, or 15 minutes three times a day.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly and build up gradually over time. Start with five minutes of cardio exercise every other day. Work up to 20 minutes three days a week, then increase it to 30 minutes four days a week. Once you've reached this level of intensity, try surpassing it.
Top 10 Cardio Exercises
1) Brisk Walking
Brisk walking is an excellent cardio exercise to boost your heart rate and keep it up—which helps you burn calories, build endurance and lower the risk of heart disease.
Brisk walking involves walking for at least 10 minutes at a pace that gets your heart racing. The length of time and intensity can be varied according to personal preference or available time.
The best thing about brisk walking is that it's easy to fit into your day. If you take public transportation or walk from one point to another at work, you can use those walks as part of your exercise routine without changing your schedule.
Sprinting is one of the best ways to improve stamina and endurance. It gets your heart pumping and improves your lung capacity. It also helps build muscle tone, which will help you burn more calories even when you're not exercising.
The most important thing when sprinting is to ensure you do everything correctly. It would be best if you always took breaks between sprints so that your body can recover and rest. Don't make more than five sprints at a time, and if you don't feel like you've fully recovered after each one, stop for the day and go for a light jog instead.
Cycling is an effective way to stay in shape without having a regular gym membership. It can be done anywhere by anyone—regardless of skill level or physical condition—and it provides a full-body workout on both road and mountain bikes, as well as the more conventional stationary variety at home.
Cycling improves mood and self-esteem, reducing stress levels by decreasing cortisol in the body.
Cycling can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, risk factors for heart disease.
If you're looking for a way to boost your cardio routine without going to the gym, try cycling!
Swimming is a great way to get a full-body workout while working on your stamina, strength, and flexibility.
Swimming is an excellent cardio exercise because it raises your heart rate, increases circulation, and burns calories. It's also a low-impact activity that won't stress your joints or put too much pressure on them.
If you're starting out, ease into it by swimming for five minutes. Then work your way up to 10-minute sessions, then 15 minutes, then 20, and so on until you can swim for an hour straight.
If you're already good at swimming laps, consider doing some intervals: alternate between fast and slow strokes in the same pool lap—you'll get more out of each lap that way!
Whether you're just getting started or looking for ways to improve your existing skill set, swimming is a great choice for staying active.
5) Organised sports
Organised sports are a great way to get in some cardio and have fun at the same time. Organised sports are the perfect solution if you want to combine cardio exercise with your love of team sports.
Whether playing basketball with your friends or going for a jogging group run, you'll find that organised sports will help you get fit quickly.
Here are a few things to consider before getting involved in any organised sporting event:
- Always warm up before engaging in physical activity. Even if the activity is only likely to be mildly strenuous.
- Never push yourself so hard during exercise that pain becomes a distraction.
- To avoid injury and muscle soreness, always stretch after exercising.
Rowing is a great way to increase your heart rate, as it engages all your major muscle groups. It's also a full-body workout so you can feel it in every part of your body.
There are many ways to row, but the basic idea is to sit in a seat with a handle attached to a chain or cable. You pull on the handle and use your legs and back muscles to move the chain or cable in the opposite direction.
Rowing for cardio is a great way to burn fat, build muscle, and get a full-body workout. It's also low-impact, so people with joint problems or recovering from an injury can also benefit from it.
Major benefits of rowing include:
- Increased upper body strength
- Lower body stability and power
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Increased stamina and endurance
7) Sled Pushes
Sled pushes are a great way to increase your heart rate, boost your metabolism, and strengthen your lower body. You only need a sled, which you can purchase or build yourself—you can make it out of anything sturdy enough to hold weight. It can be a push-or a pull-type, but either works well.
To do the exercise:
1. Start by placing your feet in front of the sled and squatting down with your back straight.
2. Lean forward while placing one hand on each side of the sled and slowly push it on until you're standing up again.
3. Repeat this motion as often as you want until your heart rate increases and you feel fatigued.
8) Boxing or Martial Arts Training
Boxing and martial arts can be great ways to get in shape. They help you build muscle and improve endurance—a key component of staying healthy.
The exercises you perform while training are intense, and they help to create muscle memory that will make it easier for you to maintain your fitness level when you're not working out.
Boxers are in constant motion during a match, not just punching and kicking but also ducking, dodging, blocking or parrying the blows. They use their entire bodies to manoeuvre around the ring and protect themselves while aiming punches at an opponent.
Martial arts training is similar. You'll be doing many movements involving your whole body: kicks, punches, blocks, throws—all of which can be done with different levels of speed and strength.
These exercises will work for multiple muscle groups and keep your heart rate up, providing great cardio.
9) Stair climbing
Stairs are an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise because they work your entire body and make your heart pump blood faster than usual.
The stairs in your house or apartment building can be used as an exercise alternative to treadmills and ellipticals. You'll burn more calories climbing stairs than running on a treadmill because the resistance is greater when walking up stairs than running on flat surfaces.
Stair climbing is a form of aerobic exercise that increases the heart rate and breathing while you're doing it. It uses more muscles than just walking on a flat surface which helps with weight loss, too!
10) High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a type of cardio exercise involving short bursts of intense activity followed by rest periods. Effective HIIT workouts include lifting weights, strength training, sprinting on the treadmill, push-ups, jump squats, and burpees.
HIIT is a common type of conditioning among athletes because of its high intensity, short duration and efficiency in improving cardiovascular fitness. But it isn't just the benefits during the workout that have caught people's attention—it's also how much oxygen your body consumes (your Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) to recover from these intense bouts, which helps burn calories long after the exercise session.
An example of HIIT would be alternating between high-intensity exercise and lower-intensity recovery periods. This type of training is more efficient than traditional cardio exercise.
Ensure you're timing your workout to the full intensity it demands. For example, if you're working out for 30 seconds at a time, trying to do as many burpees or jump squats as possible during each of those periods.
The best thing about HIIT is that you don't need much equipment, just a timer or stopwatch.
5 Easy-to-do Cardio Exercises at Home
1) Jumping rope
Skipping rope is a great way to increase your heart rate and burn calories. It's one of the most basic forms of cardio exercise and one of the most effective. Skipping rope helps you build endurance, increases your heart and lung capacity, improves balance and coordination, and gets your blood pumping.
It's one of the best cardio exercises to do at home as it can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour and has been shown to help with everything from weight loss to heart disease prevention.
Skipping is also a great way to work out without putting too much strain on your joints. The repetitive motion of jumping helps strengthen muscles in your legs and arms, which can help improve posture and reduce joint pain.
2) Mountain Climbers
The mountain climber is an effective, full-body cardio exercise that strengthens your legs and glutes. It improves your balance and coordination while reducing back pain and strengthening the core. This cardio workout also burns calories fast because it involves large muscle groups in the lower half of your body working together at high-intensity levels for extended periods, a great way to burn fat.
How To Do Mountain Climber Exercise:
1. Get into a plank position.
2. Start in a pushup position with hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
3. Breathe in, then breathe out as you bring one knee to your chest. Then, return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg. Once this exercise is perfected at a regular pace, continue increasing your speed.
3) High Knees
High knees is an excellent cardio exercise for overall health and a fantastic way to increase your heart rate.
It works all the muscles of your lower body, especially your hamstrings and quadriceps. It also improves stamina, endurance, and flexibility and helps you burn calories, especially if you do it for an extended period of time.
How to do it:
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lift your knees toward your chest as high as you can, keeping your back straight and arms at your sides.
2. Lower down slowly and repeat 20 times for a set. Do three sets total with 30 seconds rest in between each set.
Burpees are a great cardio exercise that can help you get in shape, burn calories, and build muscle. They're also one of the most straightforward workouts you can do at home with no equipment necessary.
To perform burpees, squat down and place your hands on the floor before you; kick your feet out into a plank position (feet together) before jumping up into the air while raising your arms above your head.
Adding push-ups or jumping jacks between each burpee can make it more challenging.
Here are some ways burpees can make you healthier:
- Burpees increase your stamina, strength, and muscle tone.
- They help you lose weight by increasing your metabolic rate.
- Burpees can decrease your risk of heart disease by strengthening your heart muscles and lowering blood pressure.
5) Squat jump
Squat jumps are a great way to get your heart rate up, and they're also a great way to build explosive power in your legs. This cardio exercise not only helps you to lose weight but also improves your muscle strength and endurance. It is an excellent exercise for strengthening your lower body, especially the glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Squat jumps are a great cardiovascular exercise that strengthen muscles and improve balance.
To perform this exercise properly:1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
Tips On Getting the Most Out of Cardio Exercises at Home
Cardio exercises are essential for a healthy lifestyle. They help you maintain an active lifestyle, boost your metabolism and burn calories.
Here are some tips on getting the most out of cardio exercises at home:
1) Set a goal
Whether to lose weight or stay fit, setting a specific goal will motivate you to work harder and achieve your desired results.
2) Be consistent
To make sure that you’re getting the best workout possible, make sure that you stick with your cardio routine for at least 30 minutes per day, 3-4 times a week.
Before starting any exercise routine, always warm up for at least 5 minutes by walking or jogging around the block. This helps prevent injury and improves muscle function.
After your warm-up, spend 5 minutes stretching each major muscle group (thighs, hamstrings, chest and back). Stretching helps prevent injury by increasing blood flow throughout the body, which helps muscles recover faster after exercise has stopped.
Building a regular cardio routine into your schedule is a fantastic way to ensure that you stay active and healthy.
It's important to note that the best cardio exercises for you will be those you enjoy and can maintain over time. If you dread your workouts, it may be time to try something new.
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