Cardio or aerobic exercise is any activity that helps strengthen your heart through faster and deeper breathing.
This type of exercise helps increase the blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Doing cardio exercises helps the body release endorphins, the type of chemical that produces euphoria and a greater sense of well-being.
What are the benefits of doing cardio exercises?
Aside from helping you keep a healthy heart and mental state, doing regular cardio exercises may also help you lose weight, increase your stamina and endurance, strengthen your immune system, manage blood sugar and insulin levels, strengthen bones and muscles, improve the quality of your sleep, and reduce your risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure and more.
How much cardio exercise do you need?
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise per week (ideally spread throughout the week). You may also do a combination of both.
Moderate-intensity cardio exercises or activities
If you’re new to exercising, here are some aerobic activities that require a medium or moderate amount of effort. With this intensity, your heart may beat faster, and you may breathe harder than usual, but you should still be able to talk.
--Biking slower than 10 miles per hour
--Brisk walking for at least 2.5 miles per hour
--Ballroom dancing or social dancing
--High-intensity cardio exercises or activities
On the other hand, here are some high-intensity cardio exercises that may push your heart, lungs and muscle groups a little further. With this intensity, you may begin to sweat and feel warm. You may not be able to talk as well without catching your breath.
--Biking for 10 miles per hour or faster
--Heavy yard work (i.e., continuous digging or hoeing)
--Hiking uphill with a heavy backpack
Reminders to heart and stroke patients
Do not be afraid to exercise if you’ve suffered from a heart attack, stroke or any other cardiac event.
The truth is, regular physical activity can help prevent another cardiac event or stroke from happening. But please speak with your doctor before starting any cardio exercise for safety purposes.
Dr. Bridget Gibson is a family medicine physician for Brookwood Baptist Health.