I know cardio gets demonized a lot for not having many benefits compared to other forms of exercise such as strength training. While that may be true, there are still benefits to incorporating cardio to your weekly routine. Like most things in life the damage is really in the dosage.
The Benefits of Weekly Cardio
Unless you genuinely love running everyday, you do NOT need to run every single day, especially if you are strength training 2-3 times a week. I’d rather you prioritize strength training as it will help you put on muscle which helps prevent injury.
So what can you expect from consistent cardio 1-2x a week? Cardio will be good at improving your overall aerobic capacity. It strengthens your heart, which will help lower blood pressure. It will improve your overall lung capacity as your endurance improves over time. Keeping a consistent cardio routine will send an endorphin rush that will help alleviate anxiety and keep your mental health in check. Your immune system will improve as you are making your body more efficient at delivering blood flow and thus more white blood cells to the places that need it.
What Else Can You Do?
You don’t have to just think of cardio as going for 30-45 minute runs every day and sweating your butt off. Spread that workload out to 3 ten minute walks after your meals. It’ll not only let you improve your digestion by facilitating movement, but you will still receive the cardio benefits of staying active.
I always advise my clients who aren’t huge cardio fans to try and get 1-2 days of cardio for general health, and then achieve the rest of their cardiovascular movement through step count and strength training sessions. Aim for 10,000 steps a day if you aren’t already. This will get you actively moving throughout the day, while helping make it a more sustainable habit. It is significantly easier to find ways throughout your busy day to keep walking and moving than it is to try and find a dedicated 1 hour to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. You can go for walks with your family, or play sports.
Importance of Strength Training
I will also always advise working out 2-3 times a week over everything else. Strength training will give you similar heart health benefits with the addition of packing on muscle to your frame. Even if your goal isn’t to be a bodybuilder, we can all benefit from adding a little bit of muscle to prevent injury. It will also keep our bones dense and strong. Bone breaks become a huge concern the older you get because they become fraile. Any slip or fall can lead to a serious break. By incorporating weight training, you will keep yourself resilient and more durable.
They can be full body sessions, which allow you to hit the full body 3 times a week. The benefit of this is that if you miss a session it still allows you to stay consistent whereas a body part split can throw off the entire schedule. We want to focus on compound movements that'll stimulate multiple muscles at a time. This will create the biggest signal for growth, and maximize your time in the gym so you aren’t spending more time than you have to.