Cardio exercise is defined as any type of movement that gets your heart rate up and increases the circulation of blood in the body. Other than toning muscles and burning fat, cardio workouts offer an assortment of health benefits, including improved heart health, increased metabolism, hormone regulations and improved recovery of muscles.
Cardio improves heart health by working the muscles of the heart, ensuring that the muscles remain strong over time and decreasing the risk of negative health effects, such as heart disease or heart attack. In addition to speeding up your heart rate, cardio workouts can increase the rate of metabolism in the body. Over time, there will be a noticeable increase in the metabolic rate.
Adding cardio to your routine can also increase the release of “feel good” hormones that will help decrease depression, fatigue, and appetite. Another benefit of adding cardio workouts to your routine is a decrease in the amount of time required for recovery, as moderate forms of cardio bring blood flow to muscles and helping to improve and repair them during the rebuilding process. This ensures that you can get back to working out much sooner and feel less pain as a result.
Top 7 Cardio Workouts, You Can Add to Your Fitness Routine
Overall, cardio workouts are a great addition to any fitness routine, as they can not only improve your health but also help you to achieve a leaner and more toned appearance quickly. Here are 7 different cardio workouts that you should consider adding to your own fitness routine.
1Boxing / Kickboxing
For those looking for a full-body cardio workout, boxing or kickboxing is a great option. Boxing and kickboxing routines are guaranteed to increase your heart rate as you work for multiple different muscle groups, ensuring a comprehensive, full-body workout. In addition, boxing burns a lot of fat and calories. There’s a secondary benefit, too: when you learn how to box or kickbox, you’re teaching yourself some sound, practical self-defense techniques!
The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a Compendium of Physical Activities in 2011 which stated that boxing can burn 700-1500 calories per hour, depending on the style of boxing used. Combining boxing with other cardio movements, like squat jumps and burpees, will result in a full-body workout designed to burn high amounts of calories and fat.
To maximize your boxing workout, be sure to use the proper boxing equipment and protective gear. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your training while also doing so safely and responsibly.
One of the simplest and often most overlooked ways to burn calories is to jump rope. Not only does this simple cardio workout require some of the cheapest equipment, but it also burns quite a bit of calorie. The Harvard Medical School Publications claim that a 125-pound individual can burn around 300 calories when jumping rope for 30 minutes. A heavier person would burn more calories.
In addition to being able to jump rope anywhere and anytime, it is possible to further customize your workout. For example, for a more challenging workout, one could increase the speed of their jumps, or do double or triple. Jumping rope is a great workout that can be added into a high-intensity interval workout as well, due to its ability to burn fat and increase cardio fitness, making it the ideal workout to add to any routine.
Related Article: Why I do jumping jacks first thing in the morning
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, cycling, both indoor and outdoor, has been proven to be good for the body. It is a great way to experience a cardio and muscle-strengthening workout. In addition to burning calories and fat, cycling engages your core muscles and your entire lower body. Unlike running or walking, which can be hard on knees, ankles, and hips, cycling helps to strengthen your hips and knees. Other health benefits of cycling include: increased muscle strength and flexibility, decrease stress levels, anxiety and depression, improved posture, and decreased body fat levels.
Not only will cyclists be able to experience the outdoors and get a breath of fresh air, but because the exercise is low impact, it is an easy alternative for persons of all fitness levels. In addition, this exercise can be enjoyed with a group, which will boost feel-good hormones as you engage in social interactions.
If you’re not able to get outside on a bicycle, there are indoor cycling options available. A number of gym franchises are devoted specifically to indoor cycling, also known as spinning. During a spin class, a certified instructor leads your group cycling ride to keep you engaged and energized through what is one of the most intense and exhaustive full-body workouts. There are also new home spin bikes with interactive features that allow you to live-stream classes lead by these instructors, so you can get an intense workout and the group dynamic at home.
Whether you choose indoor or outdoor cycling, those looking for a life-long cardio workout that is both enjoyable and low impact, cycling is a perfect option.
Another great cardio workout that is not restricted to the gym is running. Running offers the same freedoms as cycling–it can be done anywhere at any time and can be tailored to suit the individual’s needs. In addition to offering a breath of fresh air and a chance to smell the roses, running is also linked to improved health.
For example, one study, Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2014, discovered that running is associated with a 45% drop in deaths caused by cardiovascular disease. In addition, runners experienced these benefits no matter how long, how fast or how often they ran.
In addition to reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases, running is also linked to lower rates of stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Running is also proven to strengthen bones and keep them healthy, even when bones begin to weaken with age.
For those seeking a simple, no-fuss addition to their cardio routine, running is an ideal way to effectively burn calories, achieve a leaner physique and improve overall health.
Related Article: Running on a Treadmill: Advantages and Disadvantages
Swimming is a great combination of a low impact and intense cardio workout that efficiently engages the entire body. Much like cycling, swimming is a low impact exercise that strengthens joints and muscles, without putting stress on them. Because this exercise is easier on joints, this exercise is ideal for persons of all fitness levels and can be customized to the needs of the individual. However, the resistance of the water helps to build strength as well.
The complex movement for swimming increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the tissues throughout the body and ultimately strengthens the muscles of the heart and improves circulation. Swimming also helps to improve lung capacities and helps the body to process oxygen more efficiently. In addition to offering a complete full-body workout and health benefits, swimming can also burn a large number of calories. The Harvard Medical School observed that after 30 minutes of swimming, a person could burn around 240-330 calories.
Related Article: How Swimming Can Help You to Stay Fit and Healthy
6High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a comprehensive, full-body workout that involves short, intense bursts of exercise with less intense ones. Unlike other forms of exercise, HIIT is efficient and allows you to experience all the benefits of intense cardio (fat burning, metabolism boosts, and improved health) without having to spend hours in the gym. Another benefit of using HIIT for cardio workouts is that you are able to customize your routine to fit your needs and your desired levels of intensity.
Using interval training, you are essentially pushing your body to its limits in order to accomplish as many reps as possible, allowing you to benefit from muscle strengthening and improved cardiovascular health. To experience the best results with HIIT, it is important to change up your workout routine regularly, so that your body does not become accustomed to the exercise.
Both CrossFit and gyms like Orange Theory Fitness focus their workout programs around HIIT training. Orange Theory even has special technology available to members to measure their heart rate throughout the duration of the sessions. If you’re interested in making HIIT part of your routine, you may want to consider joining one of these gyms.
One of the biggest complaints that many people have when it comes to working out is that going to the gym is boring. However, a great way to avoid getting stuck in the gym and still getting a great cardio workout is to play sports, especially those of higher cardio intensity, such as soccer, volleyball, basketball and etc. In addition to having fun and socializing with your teammates, playing sports offers similar cardio benefits to other more traditional forms of exercise.
What better way to benefit from improved health than by participating in a sport that you enjoy? Not sure what sport you are interested in? Then try a bunch of different ones. You just might discover a new hobby.
You don’t have to be in high school or college to participate in sports. Most cities feature adult leagues for athletes in your age group –– or maybe you can start one! Ask your co-workers and supervisors if your company would be interested in starting a softball league, or get a group of friends together to play soccer on the weekends. Local businesses are often willing to sponsor these teams in exchange for wearing jerseys featuring their logos, so for a little free advertising, you can get in a great workout and have some fun!
For those looking to tone their muscles, burn fat and achieve a leaner appearance, cardio workouts are a must. However, to maximize your workout routine, cardio must be used in conjunction with other routines and lifestyle changes. Try mixing it up! To avoid getting stuck in a routine that leaves you bored and your body unchallenged, experiment with different workout routines.
In addition to adding some great cardio workouts to your daily routine, make sure that you are taking care of your body, both inside and out by taking time to stretch and cool down muscles, replenishing lost fluids, eating healthy foods and taking performance supplements, which can help to build and repair developing muscles.