Cardio is short for cardiovascular, which refers to the heart. Cardiovascular exercise is exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for a period of time. Another name for it is aerobic exercise. The kinds of exercise that are associated with cardiovascular workouts are things like jogging, fast walking, and swimming where there is no break in the routine. Exercises that emphasize stretch and strength, like Pilates, are generally not considered cardio exercise, though Pilates can be done in a cardio way, and can certainly be combined with cardio workouts to great effect.
The benefits of cardio workouts
There is a hefty list of health benefits associated with doing cardio exercise. Here are some top reasons to include cardio in your workout routine:
- It strengthens the heart
- It strengthens the lungs and increases lung capacity
- It boosts the metabolism, burns calories, and helps you lose weight
- It helps reduce stress
- It increases energy
- It promotes restful sleep
Now that you are convinced of the benefits of cardio exercise, you might be wondering: "How high does my heart rate have to be and how long do I keep it there?" We will take a look at those questions and find out how to establish a target heart rate on the next page. But before we get in to any fancy stuff, there is a good rule of thumb to know about when you are doing cardio types of exercise: You should be able to talk. If you are too winded to speak comfortably, your heart rate is probably too high and you need to slow down.Next, learn to calculate your target heart rate.