We live busy lives that can get overwhelming way too fast. Full-time jobs, family responsibilities, social events, and countless daily chores take a considerable amount of our time.
Yet, there is no reason not to take care of our health.
The meaning of health is not just the absence of disease. Health refers to complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Physical activity can make an extremely positive impact on our well-being. However, it could be challenging to make time for being active.
A short but regular aerobic activity might be the perfect option for busy adults. This type of exercise is also known as a сardio workout, and it provides many health benefits.
Cardio workout involves large muscle groups, promotes blood circulation, and ensures efficient use of oxygen to produce energy for movement. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of this heart-pumping physical activity. Look at the benefits this type of workout may bring to your life.
Top-9 benefits of cardio workout
The purpose of performing workouts shouldn't be limited to becoming fit and growing muscles. Regular cardio workouts may alter your energy levels, boost your endurance, and support inner body processes.
Cardio workouts strengthen your immune system
The innate immune system is the body's natural defense system. It protects against infection, removes harmful substances, and destroys cancerous cells. Cardio exercises may boost your immune system by triggering the release of endorphins that reduce pain and depressed moods. Regular workouts also help regulate hormones like adrenaline, which triggers inflammation in immune cells.
Intense cardio exercise can also help to improve the function of certain white blood cells called neutrophils, essential for fighting off infections. Additionally, it may possibly reduce your risks of inflammation-related conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Cardio workouts could also increase the number of immunoglobulin cells in your blood, which are potent protective factors.
Cardio workouts help enhance your cognitive function
Recent studies reveal cardio workout is associated with improved cognitive function and can slow down brain tissue loss. If you exercise regularly, you could have better reaction times, better memory, and a higher concentration level than non-exercisers.
Cardio workout could help improve blood supply to the brain and thus improve your cognitive performance. The increased blood flow, in turn, delivers more oxygen to the brain cells that eventually improves thinking skills. A study has found that when compared to sedentary people, people performing cardio workouts have higher levels of glucose metabolism, which is an indicator of increased brain activity.
Cardio workouts possibly reduce the risk of heart disease
Busy achievers who prefer to sit behind their desks all the time can experience many cardiovascular issues. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity, weakens your heart, and decreases your endurance. Scientists recommend having at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week.
Cardio workouts are one of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease and other diseases related to the circulatory system. They also help with weight loss, which contributes to your heart muscle strength.
While going for a 30-minute walk every day is good, going for a run is even better. Cardio workouts that include sprinting, running, or other high-intensity exercises are helpful because they cause your heart rate to rise and fall quickly, which strengthens it over time.
Cardio workouts promote better sleep
The more the body moves during the day, the better it sleeps at night. People who perform exercise during the day sleep significantly better than those who have a sedentary lifestyle. Cardio workouts help you release some of the stress hormone cortisol, allowing you to wind down and fall asleep faster at night.
Overall, research has shown that people who work out regularly have better sleep patterns and more time spent in REM sleep. Cardiovascular training is also effective in lowering stress levels, which may be another reason for improved sleep quality. Just make sure you don’t perform intense cardio workouts right before sleep, since they may interrupt sleep hormone production in your body. Do your workout at least two hours before bed for the best sleep-enhancing effect.
Cardio workouts may relieve stress and anxiety
With the increase in high-pressure jobs and longer hours, regular exercise is becoming more and more vital for your mental health. If you want to keep your sanity and keep yourself in a good mood, try cardio workouts!
Cardio workouts are an effective way to relieve stress and improve your mental wellbeing. They help your body release endorphins - hormones that make you feel good about life. Cardio exercises can also help manage anxiety and panic attacks as well as depression symptoms. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, a few cardio exercises are always a great way to release some of that pressure and feel your true self again.
Cardio workouts boost your energy level
Sometimes, people get tired not because they do too many things but because they lack physical training. One of the best ways to boost your energy levels is through cardio workouts. They strengthen your heart muscles, lungs, and respiratory system, allowing you to move longer and with less pressure on your heart.
Plus, an active lifestyle makes your body produce more mitochondria, which leads to a higher level of available energy. Working out allows you to move faster, be in better control of your body, and reduce constant tiredness after minor activities. Help your body feel at its best with a few cardio workouts a week.
Cardio workouts enhance self-image
Cardio workouts are a great way to feel better about yourself, and they also provide you with the discipline that will be valuable in your future endeavors. Achievers who exercise regularly feel better about themselves than sedentary individuals do.
Develop the discipline to become active - this may give you a powerful self-esteem boost. What’s also essential is that cardio workouts are harder to perform, so they demand firm determination and willpower. By turning cardio exercises into your habit, you can expand the boundaries of what is possible for you. Who knows, maybe a long-distance run will show you’re more capable than you could ever imagine.
It is now clear why performing cardio workouts is crucial for you to stay healthy and energized. But how can you free up some time for workouts if you are always busy, pursuing your ambitions?
The suggested 150 minutes of aerobic training per week refer to only 20 minutes daily. Here is how you can include cardio in your day-to-day life without leaving behind any of your responsibilities.
Bodyweight interval training at home
The most time-efficient way to work out is to exercise at home. No need to get ready, pick an outfit, travel to the gym or the park. Just free up some space and 20-30 minutes of your day.
The interval style of training works for both the aerobic and the anaerobic systems. Research studies show that interval training can improve the VO 2 max (amount of oxygen your body can absorb in a minute) significantly after only two weeks.
Performing bodyweight exercises quickly with little rest, provides you with similar cardiovascular health benefits as standard aerobics.
How to structure your interval workout?
- Warm-up to ten minutes to prepare your muscles for the workout
- Choose the favorite exercises to perform
- Set a time for training and resting. For example, you can exercise for 20 minutes, choosing five exercises, and perform each one for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. So it would be the first round of your workout
- If you are a beginner, begin with 30 seconds workouts, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat the 5 minutes round three more times
- Give yourself some time to recharge batteries. Light stretching is a perfect way to lower the heart rate and ease muscle strain.
Congrats! You just completed an effective cardio workout at home without wasting hours on it!
Are you wondering which exercises to choose? Here are the top-10 bodyweight exercises that don't require any equipment:
- Jumping Jacks. This cardio exercise increases your heart rate fast and activates various muscle groups in your body. It is an excellent warm-up exercise, and it also fits perfectly in interval training.
- Fast feet shuffle. This drill improves your coordination while working on your speed. Warm-up with this move before running, or include it in your interval training.
- Jumping lunges. Lunges are a great exercise that strengthens your legs and glutes while working on your stability—adding a jump after the lunge increases the intensity and recruits your cardiovascular system.
- Mountain climbers.This fast-paced exercise fires nearly every muscle in your body. It strengthens the core and helps you build cardio endurance.
- Burpees.This entire body movement works on your explosiveness, aerobic and anaerobic fitness. You can make the exercise even more complete by adding a push-up when you are on the ground.
- Squat jumps. This power move helps you build endurance, speed, and explosiveness. It is a transcendent exercise for interval training.
- Plank jacks. This move is a combination of cardio and core-strengthening exercises. It helps you build stability and promotes aerobic fitness.
- Single-leg deadlift. This exercise improves your balance and works your leg muscles at the same time. Add it to your interval training after some fast-paced activities and focus on keeping your back straight.
- Stationary run. Increase lung capacity and boost cardiovascular function with this move. Besides good exercise for a home cardio workout, it is also a great way to warm up before running and sprinting.
- Jumping split squats. This move strengthens your lower body and improves your balance while making you more explosive. It works for both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Go for a run in your neighborhood
If you're not so fond of exercises and prefer running, you'll manage to fit this into your busy schedule too! You don't need to go to a specific park for your run to get it done fast unless you live very close to one. Warm-up at home and start your run straight from your doorstep.
To get the most out of your activity while running, use earphones and listen to your favorite music or some exciting podcasts! Remember that just 20 minutes of run each day are enough to face the advantages of cardiovascular activity.
You can also integrate the interval technique when running to take your performance to the next level — experiment with intervals of running at a faster pace or sprints, followed by walking or jogging.
Use a bicycle for transportation
If you are used to moving around only by car or public transport, maybe it's time to consider cycling. Riding a bike is a great cardiovascular activity that increases your basal metabolic rate, strengthens your lower body, and improves your balance and coordination.
Choosing a bicycle as primary transportation can help you get your daily cardio dose without spending time on other physical activities. It might seem like a drastic move, but bikes are easy to adapt to and have many advantages over cars.
Bicycles are often faster than cars in urban areas, especially during rush hours. The more you ride, the more ways you'll find to avoid traffic and explore new places. Furthermore, bikes are eco-friendly and cost a lot less than maintaining and operating a car.
If your workplace is too far away from your home and you can't go by bike, you can still use cycling as primary transportation for everything else.
There might be days when you are extremely busy and you can't find any time for cardio workouts. On such days, try to move as much as possible.
For example, you can park your car a bit further from your destination; walk the stairs instead of using the elevator; stretch for 5 minutes before going to bed. Minor efforts like these teach you that you don't have to be perfect every day but have to make progress.
When you want to adopt a new habit in your life, you should plan your days and become more organized. Schedule your workouts like you schedule your meetings and prioritize them, sticking to the Five P's rule: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. And stay tuned for more insights on health and productivity!
- American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids (2018)
- The Effects Of Exercise On The Immune System And Stress Hormones In Sportswomen (2005)
- Aerobic Exercise Training Increases Brain Volume in Aging Humans (2006)
- High-Intensity Aerobic Exercise Training Improves the Heart in Health and Disease (2010)
- Efficacy of Aerobic Exercise on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors (2008)
- Aerobic Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sleep and Quality of Life in Older Adults With Insomnia (2010)
- Exercise and HDL Cholesterol Levels (2020)
- Aerobic High-Intensity Intervals Improve VO2max More Than Moderate Training (2007)