Feeling a little sluggish and want to amp up your health? Then perhaps it is time you consider speeding things up a bit!
Cardio, or aerobic exercise, the kind that actually requires you to get up and moving, has numerous health benefits outside of the obvious increase in fitness and effective calorie burn.
It works to energise both your health and your mood in two main ways.
Firstly, cardio works to enhance your respiratory and circulatory systems, promoting strong and healthy heart and lungs. It is these two systems combined that are responsible for transporting blood, oxygen and all other nutrients throughout your entire body. Each time you accelerate your workout, you are flushing all your muscles and organs (including your brain!), with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. This has an uplifting effect on your mind as well as reduces lethargy in your body.
Secondly, cardio stimulates the production of hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain, including endorphins (which neutralise pain and reduce stress), serotonin (promotes happiness and well-being) and leptin (decrease your appetite and keep you feeling satiated). These work to energise your body, enhance your mood and leave you feeling content.
But it isn’t just your respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine system that benefit from a fast-paced workout, cardio training also:
- Increases your metabolism
- Promotes brain growth and focus
- Increases your endurance levels
- Alleviates depression
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Stimulates and supports healthy bones
Not sure how fast is fast enough?
The basic answer is quite simple: Move fast enough that your heart rate and breathing increases beyond that of a brisk walk.
However, there is a little science and math behind figuring out just how much of an increase you need. To gain the most from your cardio workout, you want to be reaching your ‘target heart rate zone’, which is between 50 - 85% or your maximum predicted heart rate.
You can figure out what your maximum predicted heart rate should be by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 25 your maximum heart rate zone, is 195 beats per minute (bpm).
Then you take this number (e.g. 195 for a 25-year-old) and times it by 50% and then 85% to find your target heart rate range.
Here are some great cardio options that will both help you reach your target heart rate zone, as well as get you out of your house:
- Even dancing!
So if you feel like you need to make some changes to increase your energy levels and improve your health, then try accelerating your workout and get moving!