There are numerous health benefits to be had from cardio exercise, which we will get into below, alongside some serious gains to be made with regards to overall athletic performance.
Of course, the type of cardiovascular exercise you choose will greatly depend on your own goals. If you want to be able to run a marathon, or if you want to look slim and lean, then long-distance, steady state training is for you. If you’re looking to complement a muscular physique and build up some power, high intensity interval training may be key.
Either way, let’s take a good look at the benefits to be had from cardio, and the best cardio exercises for any given goal.
Benefits of cardio exercises
Of course, weight loss and body recomposition are great motivators for many people. One of the main things people look at is cardio for fat loss. This is fair enough: cardio helps you to burn through excess calories, thus aiding in creating that all-important caloric deficit.
However, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise go far beyond merely ploughing through calories:
Cardio training will rather obviously help you to improve the strength and efficiency of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It will strengthen your heart, so that each heartbeat will pump far more blood. This in turn will deliver more oxygen per beat to your muscles, aiding overall athletic performance. It will also increase your lung capacity, enabling you to work up to higher intensities without getting so out of breath.
Regular cardiovascular exercise is also a leading factor in taking you out of the risk zone for many chronic conditions. These include your chances of having a heart attack, suffering from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, and even of developing some forms of cancer.
There are also mental health and wellbeing advantages to be had from regular cardiovascular exercise. It alleviates your mood, relieving lethargy, depression, anxiety and stress symptoms. It can also improve the quality of your sleep, meaning that you will have more energy overall.
You can perform cardio workouts at the gym in Dubai, at home, or out and about in your local area. Some require specialised equipment, whilst others need nothing but an able body and a dash of willing. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the best cardio exercises you can be doing today:
Best Cardio Exercises
Running is easy to get into. Most of us know how to run with at least reasonable technique, and it requires minimal equipment to begin (comfortable clothes, a pair of trainers and a local park or track.)
Steady state running is inefficient at burning fat and building muscle, but will still bring about a lot of the health benefits mentioned above. Shorter, more intense bursts, such as sprinting or hill running, will be better at building muscle and will allow you to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
Either way, be sure to look after your joints. Running can wear them down over time, leading to longer term discomfort and/or injury.
Swimming is a great, safe, full body workout. As with running, you can change the intensity to suit your needs. You can take it all the way from steady, slow lengths for hours at a time to build up endurance all the way down to short, fifty metre sprints that will burn calories efficiently and build up a lot of muscle, fast.
There is also minimal impact with swimming, making it great for longevity and perfect for anybody with pre-existing joint or bone issues.
3. Kettlebell training
Circuit or high intensity interval training is a great, efficient way to build muscle and burn calories at the same time. Kettlebells work perfectly in this kind of cardio exercise.
They generally combine strength, power and cardiovascular exercise all into one short, explosive workout. Large, compound movements like power cleans and kettlebell swings can burn up to twenty calories per minute as they engage both aerobic and anaerobic systems.
4. Skipping Rope
Skipping ropes are next to kettlebells in their efficiency and the brevity in which a large number of calories can be burned in a short amount of time- as many as fifteen to sixteen per minute.
Training with skipping ropes will also boost your heart rate up to the 85%+ region. This is one of the main reasons that boxers, who typically work in short, explosive bouts, rely so much on them.
You can use them either on their own for five-ten-minute bursts, or else work them into a circuit with some other explosive, compound movements.
If you’re looking for a safe, comfortable way to perform cardiovascular exercise, static, upright bicycles are well worth considering. Every gym has them, or else they can be purchased quite cheaply and stored in a garage or spare room at home.
However, though they may seem comfortable, static bikes work best at higher intensities. A Tabata protocol on a spin bike will leave your legs feeling like jelly and your heart and lungs burning - this is exactly what you want.
Of course, road cycling is also of great benefit. It may be more interesting than sitting on a bike in a dark room somewhere, and comes with the advantage of naturally occurring changes in pace and intensity as landscape and road qualities vary.
No matter your athletic discipline, you will benefit from including cardiovascular exercise in your current plan. There is a type and style to suit everybody, and you will easily be able to find the best cardio exercises to complement your own tastes and requirements.