For a majority of people, cardiovascular [cardio] workouts mean running on a treadmill, riding a stationary cycle or huffing and puffing on the elliptical machine. But there’s more to cardio than just this. Cardio exercises are activities that strengthen the heart and the lungs or the cardio-respiratory system. Any exercise, even one done with dumbbells or barbells, can condition your heart. Some simply term it as strength training. Even these exercises can raise your heart rate by about 60 per cent – 70 per cent of your recommended VO2 max [the individual’s maximal ability to use oxygen during a workout session] and can fulfil your cardio needs. There are many more myths about cardio in people’s minds, some of which I discuss below.
Cardio workouts are the only way to lose weight and to shape up
Cardiovascular exercises are the tried and tested exercise for weight loss or for burning calories. But it is the high intensity interval training [short but intense exercise sessions] that will help you burn more calories with better stimulus for the muscles. Due to the high intensity levels, the calorie burn continues even after your exercise routine is completed and as your body goes into repair mode, more calories are expended.
If you do cardio workout every day, you can eat anything you like
This is nothing but wishful thinking. It is a complete myth that you can eat or binge on fries and burgers or load up on desserts if you run/jog/cycle to burn those extra calories. To burn the kind of calories you consume, it takes more than one and half hours of intense activity such as running. Such prolonged intense activity can result in sprains, injuries and fatigue due to overtraining. And that eventually puts a stop to all planning.
Starving before cardio expedites weight loss
Any aerobic or cardio workout requires fuel, and this comes from the food you eat. Besides, starvation will cause a catabolic effect [muscle tissue is used up for energy and you end up losing lean muscle] and your energy levels plummet. Eat a small meal with complex carbohydrates, proteins or a fruit before a workout session. Empty stomach will make you lose nothing other than your stamina and health.
If you wear ankle weights while doing cardio, you burn more calories
These weights not only slow you down, but also injure you. They hardly increase calorie expenditure. It is better to focus on intensity and progression in your exercise routine than on making life difficult.
Running or jogging on the treadmill works the best to burn calories
When your body adapts to the same type of exercise or the same intensity, you reach a plateau and you end up burning lesser calories. It is better to do different exercises for better progress. While exercising, addressing the entire body as a whole is the key to overall transformation.
Exercising with weights causes weight gain
On the contrary, it is excess consumption of food that causes unhealthy weight gain. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue while fat is seen as inactive, soft, bulky and unattractive. You burn more fat when muscle mass increases and this gives a leaner, more toned physique and an appearance of slimness.
Do not let these myths or even laziness deter you from vital exercises that can enrich your life. Good discipline, consistency and a positive attitude determines your fitness or wellness levels. Health is more than just physical fitness; it is an integration of mind, body and spirit. Therefore, the objective of any fitness plan must be physical, mental transformation and spiritual awareness.