What is "Cardio?" When talking about physical activity, it refers to activities that require your heart and lungs to work hard. Cardiovascular exercise may be some of the most important physical activity you will ever engage in.
Continued research over the last decade has expanded our understanding of the importance of cardiovascular exercise. The list of health benefits just keep growing! For instance, it can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death for men and women in America), diabetes, insulin sensitivity, hypertension, cholesterol, stroke, some kinds of cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, stress, depression, and anxiety to name a few. Basically, it makes you more awesome.
The American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control suggest at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes OR 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week for a total of 75 minutes a week or a combination of both to achieve the optimum health benefits.
An example of a beginner cardio workout plan could be as simple as quickly walking 30 minutes, 5 days a week. The goal is to get your heart rate elevated for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity which means you're huffing and puffing, sweating, and flush.
Say you want to build up to 30 minutes of continuous jogging. Simply start by jogging as long as you can comfortably. When you can't jog anymore, start walking until you feel ready to start jogging again. By doing this off again/on again method continuously you will begin to jog progressively farther and farther each time. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! Alternatives for cardiovascular exercises are hiking, cycling, swimming, rowing, jumping rope, cross training, H.I.I.T, or any combination.
It is never too late to take that first step! Set reasonable goals and begin to enjoy the benefits of a healthier you!