What Counts As Cardio?
“I hate cardio,” may be the most frequent comment we hear as personal trainers, but with further investigation, we often find that this statement just isn’t true. Our clients don’t usually hate cardiovascular exercise, they just hate the elliptical, or running, or doing burpees. And let’s be honest, no one really likes burpees.
So how do we know if you actually don’t hate cardio as much as you think you do? Let’s look at what cardio is and what it does.
The word “cardio” is short for cardiovascular exercise, which means exercise that strengthens the heart and lungs...that sounds like a pretty good idea, right? We all use our heart and lungs pretty regularly. And just like the discomfort we may feel during strengthening exercises for the other muscles of the body, there may be some discomfort as our heart and lungs get stronger. BUT... cardio doesn’t have to look like running!
By definition, cardio is any exercise that gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing. Have you ever gone dancing and lost track of time but realized you couldn’t hold a very long conversation when you were moving? Or played outside with your kids and felt out of breath at the end of it? That’s because your body was responding to the higher cardiovascular demand of that kind of movement. That’s right, it counts as cardio, and no machines were involved in the process!
The easiest way to find the cardio you enjoy is to think about the activities you like doing and find the ones that leave you a little out of breath. Things like dancing, swimming, jumping rope, biking, hiking, etc. all count! It’s not always enough to just be sweaty (sweat is just our body’s temperature regulation, and doesn’t necessarily mean we’re exercising) so check in with your breath first. While there are other reasons why your heart and breathing rate could speed up, if you’re involved in an activity at the time it’s more likely to be due to cardiovascular exercise than an anxiety attack or because you saw someone you fancy.
Remember, cardio is good for the heart, but doing something you hate is not. So find something you really enjoy and get more benefits from it. You might even discover a new hobby and make friends along the way!