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Why Everyone Should Be Doing Cardio And What Are The Best Exercises To Do

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Why Everyone Should Be Doing Cardio And What Are The Best Exercises To Do

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Are you looking out for ways to sweat out all the excess fat? Do you want to speed up the weight loss process? 

If you’re sitting on your bed and searching for ways to burn all the extra calories you’ve consumed and nodding yes to my questions, then you’ve just stumbled on the right article.

Cardio exercises are the best way to burn all those unwanted calories, boost your metabolism, improve your cardiovascular health, and much more.

In this article, we’ll tell you why you should add cardio to your daily routine and all the cardio exercises you can do to jump-start your weight loss journey.

What Are Cardio Exercises?

When you think of a cardio workout, the first few exercises that come to mind are running, swimming, walking, etc. Even though many more exercises are included in this particular category, let me tell you what cardio exercise exactly is.

Cardio or aerobics are all those exercises that can get the heart pumping for a longer period. When we work out, our muscles require three times more oxygen compared to resting muscles. To provide these muscles with sufficient oxygen, the heart starts pumping more blood resulting in increased pulse, and since the lungs are taking in more oxygen than before, you start to breathe faster.

When talking about the recommended cardio exercise, there is no specific upper limit. Still, according to CDC research, it is recommended that people get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity and 75minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio each week. 

Apart from this, any cardiovascular activity should be done for a minimum of ten minutes continuously to get your heart pumping and reap various benefits. The longer your cardio exercises are, the more health benefits you’ll enjoy.

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Benefits of Cardio Exercises

Here are a few major benefits of incorporating cardiovascular exercises in your daily routine:

1. Aids to Weight Loss

If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, adding cardio to your routine will be the best thing you’d do for yourself. We all know that to lose weight, you need to survive in a calorie deficit, and cardio is the best way to burn all those unwanted calories quickly.

Doing moderate-intensity cardio exercises for thirty minutes a day and five days a week can burn off hundreds of calories easily and rapidly take you closer to your goals.

2. Strengthens Heart

As the name suggests, cardiovascular exercises help strengthen your heart. When you work out, the heart is forced to work harder and pump more blood to your muscles, strengthening the heart.

According to the research, if you are doing cardio every day and forcing your heart to beat faster, you will improve your cardiovascular health by reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure and improving good cholesterol and insulin sensitivity.

3. Boosts Energy

Everyone has their way of boosting energy levels every day. While some people like to take caffeine or take a power nap, some prefer to work out.

When we perform cardiovascular exercises, the body goes through a lot of energy exertion, which in turn tends to release endorphins in the blood, boosting your energy levels naturally.

4. Better Sleep

If you’re one of those who find it extremely hard to fall asleep at reasonable hours and get seven to eight hours of sleep, adding cardio in your daytime routine can help you overcome this problem.

When you work out in the daytime, cardio exercises will get you tired by the evening, which will result in you falling asleep early and peacefully for the recommended hours.

5. Improved Immunity

The white blood cells or antibodies found in our body are responsible for fighting off illnesses. When you work out, five days a week, your white blood cells will be forced to move around faster and ward off any illnesses and infections that may be penetrating in your blood.

Top 17 Cardio Exercises

Here are the top seventeen cardiovascular exercises that can help you boost your energy, strengthen your heart rate and help you lose extra pounds in no time.

1. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jack or star jump is one of the most common cardio exercises that gets your heart beating fast in an instant. Even though it’s a simple exercise, it targets your thighs, quadriceps, and deltoids. Suck in your tummy and engage your core while doing this exercise, and you’ve got your core working as well.

  • Stand up straight with your feet joined together and your hands placed by your sides.
  • Jump up in the air, simultaneously stretching your hands above your head and opening your feet more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a second jump and join your feet back together and place your hands by your side.
  • Repeat these jumps for 2 sets of 30 reps each.
  • This exercise will need you to focus on every jump so your hands and feet can coordinate better. 

2. Box Jump

This exercise is a very good workout to burn your calories and get rid of your fat quickly. It targets your quadriceps while enhancing your strength.

  • Stand tall in front of an aerobic stepper, with your feet slightly open
  • Go halfway into a squat and jump up high while swinging your hands behind to enhance the jump force.
  • Try to land as softly on the box as possible, or else your knee joints will suffer
  • Step down the box and repeat the exercise for 5 sets of 3 reps each. 
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3. Cross Jacks

Cross jack helps you speed up your heart rate while exercising your calves, glutes, quads, and hamstrings to a small extent.

This exercise, like jumping jacks, requires the individual to focus on the workout and the movement for better feet and hand coordination.

  • Stand up straight with your feet open slightly more than shoulder-width apart and your hands extend in the air on your sides
  • Jump up and overlap your hands, making a cross, while moving right leg over the left leg simultaneously
  • Make a second jump again return to the starting position 
  • Jumping up the third time, cross your right hand over your left hand and left foot in front of your right foot.
  • Repeat the crossing of your hands and legs by alternating the sides 
  • Perform 2 sets of 30 reps each and work up your way to 100 reps.

4. Spot Jogs

Spot jogs are convenient and easy to do cardio exercise at your home. It is a good exercise to pump up your heart rate and warm up your body before performing workouts.

  • All you need to do is find a spot in your house where you want to workout
  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides
  • Start jogging at the spot, lifting your knees as high as possible.
  • Make sure that you do a continuous jog for at least 1 whole minute.

5. Standing Oblique Crunch

Standing oblique crunches are a good cardio workout that targets your obliques, shoulders, bicep, and triceps muscles altogether.

  • Stand up straight with your feet open shoulder-width apart 
  • Keep your hands behind your head and elbows spread on the side
  • Simultaneously lift your right leg sideways and keeping the hand behind, bring down your elbow, and touch your knee 
  • Return to the original position and perform the same steps on your left side
  • Perform 2 sets of 30 reps each

6. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are an excellent workout for your hamstrings and glutes. Pumping your hands while exercising will help work your core, arms, and back muscles as well. Apart from this, butt kicks are a great way to warm up your body to prevent any injuries.

  • Stand up straight with feet opened hip-width apart
  • Keep your arms by your torso while making a 90-degree angle with elbows
  • Start kicking your feet back up until your heels are touching glutes
  • Start slowly so you can create a rhythm between your kicks and your arm movement
  • Perform the exercise for a continuous 1 minute

7. Skater Squats

Skater squats are lower-body strengthening cardio workout. It is an excellent exercise to target your glutes, calves, outer thighs, and core muscles without stressing your spine or risking your joints.

  • For this exercise, stand with your feet close together, and your hands by your sides
  • Open your feet and jump onto the left side while skating your right foot behind your left leg, 
  • At this point, your right hand should be extended backward while your left hand should be extended up till your chin
  • Make sure you keep your spine neutral, your chest and head straight while you make the dip 
  • Jump on to the right side and repeat the same steps
  • Perform 2 sets of 30 reps each

8. Skipping Rope

Jumping rope is one of the easiest and the most effective cardio workouts out there and can help burn fat faster than any other exercise. This simple workout targets your calves, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, forearms, bicep, triceps, shoulders, back muscles, and chest muscles all at once. 

  • Start by standing in an upright position, keeping your neck straight and spine erect
  • Hold the rope ends in each hand on your sides and keep the rope behind your feet
  • Making sure your hands are a foot away from your body, start swinging the rope forward and jump when it reaches near your feet
  • Keep the rope moving and jumping on your toes. Start slowly and gradually build up your pace
  • Perform the exercise in 2 sets of 30 reps each.
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9. Jump Lunges

Jumping lunges is a slightly difficult exercise but a great way to work out your thighs and tone your lower body. It targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and calves.

  • Start by standing straight with one foot at the front and the other leg at the back, resting on your toes
  • Make sure your core is tight and your shoulders are low 
  • Inhale and lunge forward by making a 90-degree angle with your right leg and resting the other leg behind on the floor 
  • Jump up from this position and moving your hands along
  • Land in a lunge with your left foot forward and right foot backward
  • Make sure your front leg lands on your heel and the second leg lands on the toe to avoid any injuries
  • Repeat this jump and lunge by alternating your legs
  • Once comfortable, add in the resistance bands to create intensity 
  • Perform 2 sets of 30 reps each
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10. Burpees

Burpees are one of the difficult exercises when it comes to cardio. It incorporates push up and jumps, which helps target all the body muscles and elevate your heart rate within a few seconds.

  • For this exercise, start by sitting in a squat position and placing your hands on the ground
  • Jump to extend your feet back while firmly keeping your hands on the ground and assume a push-up position
  • Do a single push up and jump your feet back, taking a squat position again
  • Jump up high and stand up straight on the ground, ensuring soft lending completing one rep
  • Once you land on the ground, take the squat position again with your feet close together and your hands firmly placed on the ground
  • Repeat the push-up and jump for 2 sets of 20 reps each

11. High Knees

This is a great warm-up as well as cardio exercise. High knees target your lower body, specifically your hips, thighs, and core muscles.

  • Stand up tall, with your head and spine erect 
  • Place your upper arms on sides, bend your elbows and make a 90-degree angle between the floor and your forearm,
  • Start running in the spot, bringing your legs waist high and simultaneously hitting the knee with the opposite hand. 
  • Perform 3 sets of 50 reps each

12. Kickboxing

Kickboxing may seem like an unnecessary exercise to you, but it works up your major muscle groups, such as shoulder girdles, upper legs, and hips. It is an incredible workout for strengthening, heart, joints, balance as well as coordination.

  • Stand in front of the punching bag with your feet shoulder width apart, and one foot in front of the other
  • Your feet should be pointed outwards in a 45-degree angle
  • Place your hands upwards in font of your face, one protecting your face at all times
  • Punch with one hand and then immediately with the other hand
  • After two punches squat down and get up again to make another two punches
  • Take your time to set the jab cross and squat rhythm before increasing your speed
  • Perform for consecutive 45 seconds before taking a 15 seconds rest in between your reps

13. Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are a great way to get your heart beating. It focuses on working your gluteus maximus, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, abductors, etc. it also helps in improving blood circulation and enhancing the metabolism rate.

  • Bend down in a squat position, with your feet shoulder-width apart,
  • Squat low until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Keeping your hands behind your neck and your core tight
  • Jump up high without moving your hands
  • Assume the squat position again
  • Repeat the steps in 2 sets of 10 reps each
  • Increase the difficulty level gradually by adding hip circle bands
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14. Crab Walk

This is a very fun and interesting cardio workout. It gets your arms, shoulders, upper legs, and core working at their full capacities.

  • Start by sitting down on your yoga mat and bend your knees
  • Put your hands below your shoulders, with palms facing the floor and fingers towards your body
  • Tighten your core and lift your hips, evenly distributing the weight on your hands and feet 
  • Start walking forward and backward using your arms and feet
  • Perform the crab walk for a good 20 minutes for best results

15. Bear Crawl Push Up

This is yet another fun cardiovascular workout, helping you build up endurance and strength together. It focuses on the shoulders, chest, back, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core.

  • Assume a deep squat position with your hands hanging in between your legs.
  • Slowly start moving your hands forward and take a push up position
  • Perform a single push-up and crawl back your hands in the squat position
  • Use your hands to crawl and maintain weight throughout the body
  • Perform for 30-60 seconds

16. Mountain Climbers

Moving to the sixteenth exercise, and it’s called mountain climbers. This is a fairly easy to do cardio exercise and a personal favorite as well. It burns calories fast and targets a few of the most difficult areas; your core and thighs. 

  • Start with a plank position, your body resting on your wrists.
  • Make sure your spine is straight and your body is aligned from neck to toes.
  • Maintaining the body arch, move your left knee up till your chest
  • Slowly bringing it back, repeat the movement on your right leg
  • Once you’re comfortable with the movement, speed up the knee raises and add core sliders to intensify 
  • Perform 2 sets of 20 reps each for best results.
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17. Dancing

Did you know dancing is a great way to exercise your full body? Sounds fun, right? Dancing is a mix of aerobics and cardiovascular exercises that elevates your heartbeat while enhancing your mental and physical health.

So, start dancing to your favorite song and shed all the extra pounds.

Guidelines for A Safe Work out 

When working out at home or the gym, it is important to take safety measures to avoid getting hurt.

  1. Warm-up is extremely important when exercising so you don’t end up straining your joints or hurting your muscles.
  2. Follow the workout instructions attentively. It is important to work out with correct posture instead of rushing through the reps and sets.
  3. Start with slow exercises and gradually work up the difficulty level, unless you’ve been working out before.
  4. It is essential to listen to your body when exercising. Do not exercise if you feel dizzy, have chest pain, and face shortness of breath or joint pains. 
  5. Wear breathable clothes and well-padded shoes to avoid straining your heels
  6. Make sure you stay hydrated before, during, and after the workouts to avoid fainting and dehydration.
  7. Take a meal an hour or two before exercising to energize yourself through the training session.
  8. Be aware of training too hard or too often to avoid overworking your muscles and ending up getting injured.
  9. If you stop working out for a while, dial down the difficulty level and lift lighter weights in case of strength training.
  10. If you’re working out in cold weather, wear enough layers to avoid hyperthermia. Make sure you can peel off your layers as you warm up. 

Takeaway

Cardiovascular exercises are very important for maintaining good health. It is recommended to work out at least 150 minutes per week, as it helps prevent most diseases.  Cardio workout is known to control blood pressure levels, reduce the risk of heart attacks and control pre-diagnosed type 1 diabetes, etc. You must work out with caution, wearing proper workout gear, and maintaining correct postures to avoid injuries.

Article Sources

  • Mersy, D. J. ‘Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise’. Postgraduate Medicine, vol. 90, no. 1, July 1991, pp. 103–07, 110–12. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1080/00325481.1991.11700983.
  • Seo, KyoChul. ‘The Effects of Dance Music Jump Rope Exercise on Pulmonary Function and Body Index after Music Jump Rope Exercise in Overweight Adults in 20’s’. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, vol. 29, no. 8, Aug. 2017, pp. 1348–51. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.1348.
  • Bremer, Zoe. ‘Dance as a Form of Exercise’. The British Journal of General Practice, vol. 57, no. 535, Feb. 2007, p. 166.
  • CDC. ‘Walking: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans’. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Sept. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/index.htm.
  • CDC. ‘Benefits of Physical Activity’. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Apr. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.
  • Myers, Jonathan. ‘Exercise and Cardiovascular Health’. Circulation, vol. 107, no. 1, Jan. 2003, pp. e2–5. ahajournals.org (Atypon), https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.0000048890.59383.8D.
  • Fletcher, G. F., et al. ‘Statement on Exercise. Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans. A Statement for Health Professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association.’ Circulation, vol. 86, no. 1, July 1992, pp. 340–44. DOI.org (Crossref), https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.86.1.340.
  • Safran, Marc R., et al. ‘Warm-Up and Muscular Injury Prevention An Update’. Sports Medicine, vol. 8, no. 4, Oct. 1989, pp. 239–49. Springer Link, https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-198908040-00004
  • Oh, Duck-Won. ‘Effects of Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises for Preventing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness on Pain and Muscle Activation’. Physical Therapy Korea, vol. 20, no. 1, 2013, pp. 28–35. www.koreascience.or.kr, https://doi.org/10.12674/ptk.2013.20.1.028.
  • EBSCOhost | 145766587 | Effects Of Gym Workout On Pulmonary Function Tests In Healthy Adults. https://web.b.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=09759840&AN=145766587&h=ExMJ%2b7CCMI0y%2b%2fYopaxDfxyTDxrVFZI4TRqLysD5NMjbZtrEmn6w9wibyevthhiWuPubvvnzNJkmnb%2b8x4WCUg%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d09759840%26AN%3d145766587. Accessed 9 Sept. 2021. 
  • Fagard, Robert H., and Véronique A. Cornelissen. ‘Effect of Exercise on Blood Pressure Control in Hypertensive Patients’. European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, vol. 14, no. 1, Feb. 2007, pp. 12–17. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.1097/HJR.0b013e3280128bbb
  • Jennings, G. L., et al. ‘Exercise, Cardiovascular Disease and Blood Pressure’. Clinical and Experimental Hypertension. Part A: Theory and Practice, vol. 11, no. 5–6, Jan. 1989, pp. 1035–52. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, https://doi.org/10.3109/10641968909035390.
  • Wu, Nana, et al. ‘Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Exercise Training in Persons Living with Type 1 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’. Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 8, no. 2, Feb. 2019, p. 253. www.mdpi.com, https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8020253.

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