Hello Again! I hope this reaches you all living the life of your dreams in the best health possible!
Today I want to address a question I get... daily.
It has a few different renditions... Is cardio good for me? Should I be doing cardio? How much cardio? What type of cardio? Why am I not being told to do cardio? And the list goes on. The takeaway is that there is a bunch of confusion surrounding cardiovascular training.
The first thing to consider when looking at a cardiovascular training program is your goal.
What do you wish to achieve and is the program you choose going to be the most advantageous for that goal?
Second, is the program you choose going to yield the long-term effects you are looking for in your body? If the answer is "No", then you need to consider whether you want to accept the consequences to your overall health. Is the potential outcome really worth the more than likely outcome later in life?
Doug McGuff, an M.D. who specializes in exercise says it best, “Exercise is a specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former.” (McGuff, Body by Science, pg. 2)
Once you have answered two questions above and considered the impact they will both have on your overall health, then you can decide whether or not to pursue that goal.
My doctor says I have to do cardio or my heart will get weaker. True, but yet false with a sprinkle of truth... maybe. That's clear, right?
Well, if you do cardio and are not fueling your body correctly you will actually stimulate the body to decrease your heart muscle as your body struggles to become more efficient on less. You will lower your heart rate but long-term studies are now showing that this is not necessarily a good thing.
Take a look at this study published by American Heart Association.
Again there a number of different variables.
What if you are doing cardio at the sake of your joints and connective tissue. Is having a stronger heart that much of a benefit if you can no longer move? How long is that heart going to stay strong once your knees, hips, shoulders, and ankles stop working...? Hmmm... a few weeks at best! I hope you enjoyed that healthy heart for the period you had it... but now what are you doing to maintain that heart tissue?
Nope, I am not saying cardio training is bad.....
........ what I am saying is understand the risk and benefits and then maybe choose a form of exercise that will elicit the same strengthening benefits on the heart with less of the downside wear and tear on your body.
How about, for example, PROPERLY supervised and prescripted weight lifting?
See, there is one thing most people forget when it comes to strengthening your heart. Your heart's strength is directly correlated to the amount of muscle you carry around.
We forget, actually, people are rarely told, that your heart is there to pump the important things to your tissues. Therefore, the more tissue you have that requires these important things like oxygen and nutrients, the stronger your heart will be.
So... increase that tissue density and you increase your heart strength!
How do you increase that tissue density...? BUILD MUSCLE!
Note that I didn't say to get out there and run 2, 3, 4, 5 days a week, do high-intensity interval training, run a race or stand on an elliptical or stair climber for hours a week. Pick up a weight and squeeze your muscles really hard! Make sure to always consider proper biomechanics and lifting form of course and your heart and your joints will thank you in the long run.