It’s the thing that bodybuilders hate and marathon runners love. It gives rugby players sleepless nights but makes “weekend warriors” believe that their hectic drinking and junk food eating escapades can be undone with a good solid dose of it. It is the staple diet of the uninformed that are trying to lose weight…

What is it?

It’s cardio (insert evil music here!)

Cardio, or rather cardiovascular training as it’s officially known, is such a misunderstood concept of fitness and health that it deserves to be listed with enigmas like Michael Jackson, the Bermuda Triangle and what actually happened on September 11th. What it actually is, is rather simple. In layman’s terms, it is any form of continuous exercise that elevates the heart rate to just below maximal level. That sounds very scientific and way too higher grade for this early in the year. So let’s simplify it using what is commonly referred to as the “talk test.” If you’re walking and can maintain a reasonable conversation without……it…..sounding…..like…..this….. then you are working at a submaximal level.

Cardio comes in many shapes and forms. In fact it’s like that lady that everyone knows who changes her hair colour more often than I change my socks (sorry mom!) It can be something as gruelling as a marathon (run), as challenging as the Midmar Mile (swim) or as laidback as a walk around your neighbourhood. It can be a structured class like a dance or spinning class, or something as unstructured as an outdoor bootcamp class. You can do cardio indoors or outdoors at any time of day. Cardio doesn’t judge, cardio understands 😉

The benefits of cardio include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Better heart and lung function (cardiac and respiratory systems)
  • Improved blood circulation (meaning better transport of oxygen and nutrient to those hard working muscles as well as removal of waste products)
  • Increased metabolic rate (during training)
  • Potentially assisting in fat loss (resistance training is still king)
  • Stress relief

The list goes on. So all in all, cardio is an important cog in our fitness wheel. Go out and do your cardio because cardio is NOT hardio!

Dave Shanley

BA Human Movement Science

B Sport Science Honours (Biokinetics)

IFBB National Level Bodybuilder (Amateur)

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