Is cardio good for weight loss?

We highlight the benefits of cardio exercise

One of the most common topics discussed when it comes to exercise and attending the gym, is around weight loss. “Will it help me lose weight?” “Will it help me lose body fat?” are some of the top questions personal trainers and leisure centre staff at Places Leisure get asked.

Exercise, especially cardio, is much more than a way to lose weight. There are many benefits to regular exercise including improved health and mental health. This blog will help you find all you need to know about cardio and its benefits to your body.

Jump to:

●        What is cardio?

●        Benefits of cardio exercise

●        Types of cardio exercise

●        Is cardio good for weight loss?

●        Cardio at Places Leisure centres

What is cardio?

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is sometimes referred to as aerobic exercise due to its reliance on oxygen use within your body to reach optimum heart rate levels. 

Using exercises that elevate your heart rate and deepen your breath, such as running, jogging, cycling and dancing, cardio harnesses movement to place your body into an energised rhythm. 

Cardio can be carried out at home, in the gym or in an aerobics class like Zumba or group cycling classes like Spin.

Zumba for cardio

Benefits of Cardio Exercise

With regular exercise there are a whole range of benefits you can experience so let us take a deep dive  into the benefits specifically for cardio exercise.

Improved Physical Health

Cardio exercise can improve your health significantly, especially if carried out regularly, but it is most beneficial to your heart, respiratory and circulatory system.

Cardio exercise is designed to get your heart beating faster and increase your lung capacity to allow the extra oxygen into your body and support the heart during exercise. As they work in tandem, your heart (including your arteries and veins) and your lungs improve their strength and efficiency, contributing to a lowered risk of heart disease and cardiac episodes.

Cardio health

Improved Mental Health

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the feel-good mood booster naturally made in our bodies. Endorphins are also a natural pain reliever (useful for your post-gym recovery!) and with only 20 – 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day you can significantly boost your endorphins release within your body.

Alongside endorphins giving you a positivity boost, regular cardio exercise can also improve your mental health in other ways, including:

·       Motivation – small amounts of regular cardio exercise can improve your motivation levels across all aspects of your life providing you with an increase in self-satisfaction.

·       Reduction in anxiety and depression – as detailed by the NHS, regular exercise is proven to reduce anxiety and depression through serotonin release (another mood-booster in our body) alongside endorphins.

·       Self-confidence – trying new classes, increasing socialising through exercise, and working towards fitness goals all contribute to how we feel about ourselves and improve our self-confidence.

·       Reduction in stress – moving your body and focusing on a specific exercise or exercise class is a great way to let off some steam after a stressful day, alongside the release of all those natural mood-boosters, it allows you to take a moment out of your day to focus on you.

Support your weight loss goals

Many people consider type and frequency of exercise if they have weight loss goals they wish to reach and cardio exercise can play a key role in supporting weight loss goals.

If you are new to your exercise journey, cardio exercises such as walking or cycling are great activities to get you started; they will still burn calories but will ensure your body builds up strength gradually and enable you to do more intense cardio exercises in the long run.

Types of Cardio Exercise

Many different exercises fall into the cardio/aerobics category, and despite the long-standing debate on cardio vs strength training, a combination of them will ultimately provide optimum benefits for your body. Here is a selection of exercises to get you started:

1.      Walking

This is something most of us can all get on board with, a fast-paced walk around the block, to the gym or even just with the dog all count as cardio exercise. As long as you are rhythmically moving your muscles and increasing your heart rate your body will receive the benefits of cardio exercise.

Walking for cardio

2.       Running

While running may seem daunting to many people, especially if you are just starting on your exercise journey, it is a fantastic way to increase your stamina and get your heart and lungs working hard, even better you can pop on your favourite podcast while you’re running! There are many ways to introduce running into your daily routine, and it can be done outside or in the gym on a treadmill.

3.       Swimming

Swimming is a great accessible form of cardio exercise for all ages and abilities. From aqua aerobics to lane swimming, swimming can improve cardiovascular health, alongside flexibility, movement, balance and coordination.

4.       Rowing

Rowing is a great full-body workout, it combines cardio and strength training so can be done in a shorter timeframe whilst receiving all the benefits of cardio exercises. Ensuring you are using well-maintained rowers and that your personal trainer or gym team have advised you on the best technique to use the machines is key so you don’t sustain any injuries.

Rowing for cardio

5.       Cycling

Cycling is a versatile way to complete your cardio exercise. You can go as fast or as slow as you wish, and you can also cycle outside, on an inside bike or even join a Group Cycling class at your nearest gym. You need to ensure you have suitable shoes and investing in some good, cushioned cycling shorts can improve your cycling experience.

Is Cardio Good for Weight Loss?

Cardio is great for our heart and lung health, but how does it fare as an exercise for weight loss?

As with all exercising, if you are burning more calories than you are consuming then you should be on a good path to achieving weight loss (minus any health implications or underlying issues someone might have). Regular cardio exercise can support weight loss goals in other ways, including boosting metabolism, increasing muscle mass, regulating appetite and reducing stress, which are all contributing factors in someone’s overall weight.

The great thing about cardio exercise for weight loss is that cardio can be carried out in all weathers and there are options for all abilities, meaning you can build a consistent exercise routine which is key to reaching and maintaining any weight loss goals.

Cardio at Places Leisure centres

The majority of our centres provide state-of-the-art facilities for gym, swimming, and classes, as well as a range of personal training services. You can find your nearest centre by facility to discover where you can carry out your most desired cardio exercise.

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