A few things you will always hear during your journey towards fitness is “amp up your cardio”, “cardio is the key”, “never miss your cardio” and the likes. And, if you’re a newbie it’s quite natural not to understand what all these workout mumbo-jumbos actually mean.
Well, to make things easier for you, cardio is the abbreviated form of cardio-vascular exercises. How is cardio different from the other kinds of exercises you do? Cardio or aerobic exercises require oxygenated blood to be pumped into your body so that the working muscles receive oxygen. This process pumps up your heart, increasing stamina and overall health of your heart and lungs. It also increases endurance and speeds up your metabolism by many folds, which translates into greater fat burn. If you’re doing your cardio right, then your body can even keep burning fat for long hours even after you have stopped working out.
Cardio is extremely beneficial as it improves hormone profile, and also aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels in diabetic people.
However, if you are starting new, it is important to understand the capacity of your body. The way the body of a twenty-year-old will respond is different from how that of a forty-year-old will. Over training or exceeding your body’s natural capacity can have negative effects. The idea is to start light and then gradually push yourself as your body builds greater endurance until you become this fitness giant who can take on any workout challenge.
Before we delve deeper into the subject let’s understand which exercises qualify as cardio. Basically, it includes every movement that gets your heart pacing – walking, running, swimming, skipping, cycling, even boxing.
At twenty, your body is at its natural best. It can take abuse like no other, it can also endure like no other. So if you’re starting your fitness journey in your twenties you can afford to be absolutely fearless. The suggested distribution of your workouts should be something like thirty minutes of cardio along with strength training three times a week punctuated by three days of only cardio for about one hour. Unless you have serious fitness goals, one hour of training every day is good enough. One day should be kept for rest and recovery.
In your twenties, you should rely less on machines for cardio. Ditch the treadmill and go for a real sprint. Or, even if you prefer the treadmill, throw real challenges at your body – increase the incline, switch speeds frequently to keep your heart going and run fast. However, be cautious of your knee as too much of training on the treadmill have reportedly caused joint problems in people.
You can mix up cardio and strength training to form compound moves which will burn more fat. If you’re doing squats with weights, switch to jump squats with light weights. But, start slow and then go all in. You would want to push your body, not shock it.