What is cardio?
Cardiovascular, the latinized form of Greek kardia (Cardio), is anything related to the heart and blood vessels within the body.
The majority of people think of cardio as an activity pertaining to such things like Running, HIIT, or Cycling etc.. But in truth, any form of exercise can be deemed as a cardio exercise: long, slow distance is cardio; weight training is cardio; boot camps are cardio.
Can any exercise that increases the heart rate be classed as a Cardio Workout?
Nice try but not quite, whilst leisure activities like walking and an easy Sunday bike ride to the pub do have benefits of their own, and are cardiovascular in nature, they aren’t cardio exercises (unless of course you are very de-conditioned then maybe some could class it as being so).
The reason being here is that for the naturally fit they don’t challenge the heart and lungs enough to improve their function.
For an activity to qualify as a cardio workout, it has to meet both criteria mentioned above, in short, it has to raise your heart and breathing rates, and challenge your cardiovascular system, just like a weights exercise has to challenge your biceps and a sit-up exercise has to challenge your abs.
Medically adults should be doing some type of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you and the more you do the better.
Moderate aerobic activities for beginners
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate a little, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.
If you are new to exercise why not try outside intensity activities such as a brisk walk, riding a bike, hiking and even pushing a lawn mower can count towards exercise. Indoors try dancing, hoovering or even both at the same time if you want to get a bit more vigorous.
What counts as vigorous intensity activity?
Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort, such as riding a bike fast or on hills, swimming fast, skipping rope, aerobics and sports, like football, rugby, netball and hockey all come into more vigorous activities unless of course you’re the goalkeeper. (only joking keeper)
For a moderate to vigorous workout, try Couch to 5K, a 9-week running plan for beginners.
If you’re hardcore and looking for something high intensity look into things such as circuit training, spin classes, lifting heavy weights and interval running, these very vigorous activities are exercises performed in short bursts of maximum effort broken up with rest.
This type of exercise is also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).