Cardio 101: The Basics of Cardiovascular Exercise

Why Is Cardio Important?

Maintaining a good cardio program over the long haul can become overwhelming for some people. However, to help keep you motivated, it can help to be aware of why your cardio workout is so important. This form of exercise comes with a number of health benefits.
 
For example, research has shown that improved aerobic endurance can improve overall health and reduce your risk for a number of health conditions, such as:
   
Also, those who incorporate strength training into their exercise regimen can help reduce symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and back pain.
 

Incorporating Strength-Training Exercises

Once you've got a good cardio routine down, you may want to focus on toning those abs and arms. Picking up some weights and incorporating some strength-training exercises can help you with some of the fine-tuning of your body. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that a well-rounded exercise program includes aerobic exercise as well as strength-training exercise (although not necessarily in the same session).
 
The ACSM recommends moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activities for at least two days a week in addition to your cardio workout to achieve the best overall health benefits of physical activity. They recommend that each strength-training session include 8 to 10 different exercises that target all major muscle groups. Each of these exercises should be done for 8 to 12 repetitions.
 
Strength training can be done using body weight, resistance bands, free weights, medicine balls, or weight machines. Again, similar to choosing your cardio exercises, choose strength-training exercises that you enjoy and that target the areas where you want to see improvement.
 
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