The Best Cardio Exercises for Weight Loss

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on December 12, 2019
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Probably, you will hear the word cardio, even if it is your first time to enroll in an exercise program. Indeed, it is a very crucial component of every workout, whether you want to be healthier, get fit, or lose weight (1). If you want to trim off those fats, then you need to know what cardio exercises are can really help you with weight loss. 

Do you know that each one of us is actually recommended to perform cardio exercises for 150 minutes a week? Health authorities explained that by doing this, we could be able to reduce our risks of various health diseases. But, if our main purpose is to lose weight, then we need to perform cardio exercises for 300 minutes a week, plus strength training.

Running, swimming, biking, and jogging are common activities that we can effortlessly perform. But these exercises are already cardiovascular activities that can really help you with losing weight provided that you do them appropriately. 

In order to be motivated to do cardio every week, let us get a deeper understanding of it. 

Benefits of Cardio Exercises

  • You will burn calories and fats 

You will lose weight if you burn more calories compared to what you eat. Some people prefer to engage in different kinds of diets, but the healthiest and most efficient means to lose weight is to combine a healthy low-calorie diet, strength training, and cardio (2). This means that you should manage your cravings or eating patterns and plan your physical exercise schedule.

Cardio is most probably a key component for weight loss because you burn a great number of calories at a time. If your heart rate is high, your heart pumps blood faster, and your respiration rate becomes higher as well. These vital conditions can actually make you sweat. Sweating is a sign that your body’s temperature is regulated and at the same time, calories are burned.

Cardio can also accelerate your metabolism. It is a chemical reaction within our body, resulting in the conversion of what you drink and eat into energy. Our body requires energy to carry out involuntary muscle activities and other functions such as; breathing, pumping blood throughout the body, regulating hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. Metabolism happens even if your body is at rest. A slow metabolism can cause weight gain. Thus, elevated metabolism, together with the right diet, and the right exercise, promotes weight loss. 

It is easy to increase the intensity of your cardio exercise; that is why you are capable of boosting your calorie burn. Besides, even a minor change in intensity, such as jumping higher, running faster, or trying new activities can help you burn more calories. 

And lastly, you really cannot limit yourself to perform cardio exercises as long as you do not suffer from any cardiac disease or injuries. In fact, you can do more cardiovascular exercises frequently and easily as compared to strength training. Remember that your muscles need rest after you engage in strength exercises in order for them to recover and become stronger as well. 

  • You will have a healthy heart

Your heart is a very crucial muscle that is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body. It also aids in supplying nutrients and oxygen to the tissues as well as in removing waste gas such as carbon dioxide and other wastes (3).

In order for your heart to be healthy, you need to keep your heart strong and to avoid the risk of various heart diseases. The American Heart Association suggests that you engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activities a week if it should be a moderate exercise, while at least 75 minutes if it should be a vigorous exercise (4)

If you lose weight through exercise, you will most likely achieve and maintain a healthy and normal body mass index that is also good for the heart. A healthy body also means no unwanted fats. You will also reduce the risk of various health issues such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, other cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes (5)

  • You will boost your immunity

Exercise itself can help improve your entire well-being. It can help shield your body against infections, that is why it is said to boost your immunity system. Your immune system is your defense to bad organisms that might invade or compromise your systems. It was shown that moderate exercise could reduce your risk of getting a cold. Walking 20 to 30 minutes a day, biking, or even going to the gym every other day can actually protect you and keep you away from diseases (6).   

Well, walking is a good form of cardio exercise. Brisk walking for more than 3 miles an hour is actually recommended (7). Running is also good for your cardiovascular health. Both biking and cycling are equally beneficial. 

Indeed, cardiovascular exercises can help decrease your risk of various bacterial infections. If you have colds or other illnesses, engaging in cardio can help cleanse the bacteria found in your lungs. If you have a higher body temperature, your body will fight bacteria that will prevent you from getting sick. Aside from that, it can help release white blood cells and antibodies that are both beneficial for your immune system to fight diseases and infections (8)

  • Your blood circulation will improve

It is very crucial to have good blood circulation to maintain your entire well-being. The blood circulates when the heart pumps it around your body. As it circulates, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your cells. Undeniably, cardio exercises are vital in improving blood circulation.

In order to promote good circulation, you need to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can negatively affect your circulation and also causes a lot of health risks such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, and infertility. One of the best ways to lose weight is to engage in cardio exercises (9)

Cardiovascular exercises can help improve the circulation of your blood. It can get rid of toxins from your body that will promote good health. Having poor circulation can lead to various health issues such as renal diseases, varicose veins, and stroke or heart attack (10).

  • You will be relieved from anxiety and depression

Cardiovascular exercises are not only good for your physical health, but also for your psychological health. Some of these include self-confidence, increased mental flexibility, and emotional boost. Running and jogging are just some of the forms of aerobic cardiovascular exercises.

These activities supply nourishing blood to your brain, which can eventually help improve your mental health. It is also responsible for releasing mood-elevating compounds that can help you think more clearly. 

Engaging in physical activities can relieve your stress. It helps in improving your mood, especially that you tend to forget your problems while performing some exercises. But, it’s not only a short-term benefit. It has long-lasting benefits for stress relief.

Probably, this is because the more you exercise, the more you release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that make you happy. This can trigger a positive feeling, thereby relieving stress (11). Take note of how stress can also lead to weight gain.   

List of the Best Cardio Exercises for Weight Loss:

Actually, you can perform cardio exercises at home. It will not only be convenient, but it can also make you save more time and money. The good thing about cardio exercise is that it doesn’t require you to use different kinds of equipment. All you need is a little creativity with various cardio exercises in order for you to burn calories, tone muscles, and eventually help you in weight loss (12)

  • Jumping Jacks

In just 10 minutes, you can burn around 100 calories by jumping the feet wide while clapping the hands overhead. You really don’t need to have the skills or some special equipment. Probably, you just need to condition your heart and a nice pair of shoes. 

  • Jumping Rope

In just 20 minutes, you can burn around 220 calories by turning the rope handles repeatedly while you jump over it. Well, the ropes are not expensive. This kind of cardio exercise does not even require special skills. You can do this anytime for as long as you have enough space. All you need is a jump rope and of course, a nice pair of shoes. 

  • Jumping in Place

This kind of exercise only requires a nice pair of shoes. It’s very simple. You only have to jog in a stationary position. Perhaps, it is an excellent way of warming up for a more intense cardio exercise. 

  • Burpees

In just 10 minutes, you can burn 100 or more calories. You simply have to squat, jump, plank, jump back in, and stand up. Actually, this kind of cardio exercise is not that easy. But all you need is a nice pair of shoes. 

  • Mountain Climbers

This kind of cardio exercise can increase your heart rate while establishing endurance and strength in the core. You really don’t need to have special skills, but you should have strong writs. From a push-up position, you have to run your knees in and out. 

  • Squat Jumps

This kind of exercise can actually increase your heart rate, increase your leg power, and burn more calories. Although no special skills are required for you to perform this plyometric exercise, you need to have strong joints, especially the knees, as this is high intensity and high impact exercise. 

  • Bear Crawls

This cardio exercise requires you to have experience with high-intensity exercises. It can help your heart rate to get up while building your endurance and strength. You have to perform various exercises, including squat and push-up. As the name implies, you do what bears do. 

  • Kickboxing

In just 10 minutes, you can burn up to 100 calories by performing kickboxing. You just have to perform it at the right intensity. You simply have to punch, kick, and combine these actions against the air, a bag, or even another person. But in doing this, you have to learn the basics of punches and kicks. 

  • Staircase exercise

If you have stairs at home, you can actually perform not only cardio exercises but also strength training. You can also use stairs to perform various exercises. If you find it hard to access stairs, maybe, a fitness step platform can help. 

Choosing a Cardio Exercise

The first thing that you should do is to discover the kind of activities you want to do. Probably, you should consider what best suit your lifestyle, your personality, and as well as that which is accessible to you.

If you are not a home person, walking, running, and cycling are good options for you. You can perform all the cardio exercises mentioned above. It doesn’t require you to have the equipment. But if you want to go to the gym, you can have many options, especially when it comes to the machines needed like elliptical trainers, rowing machines, the pool, treadmills, stationary bikes, and a lot more. 

You can actually perform cardio exercises anytime and anywhere. There are already various online workouts and exercises, fitness apps, and videos that can help you lose weight. You simply have to experiment to know what really suits you. 

Conclusion

Remember that there is no best cardio exercise applicable to all. It really depends upon the individual. You should also remember that losing weight requires hard work. For you to become more motivated to perform cardio exercises, enjoy it. Just think about your goal of losing weight and how cardiovascular exercises can help you with it. 

References:

  1. https://www.verywellfit.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cardio-1229553
  2. https://www.verywellfit.com/cardio-for-weight-loss-1229851
  3. https://www.livescience.com/34655-human-heart.html
  4. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults#.V6prNVfwzEw
  5. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/weight_management_for_a_healthy_heart/
  6. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/exercise-when-you-have-cold#1
  7. https://www.rallyhealth.com/fitness/walking-good-great-workout
  8. https://woman.thenest.com/cardio-exercise-boost-immune-system-during-exercise-12004.html
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320793.php
  10. https://gethealthyu.com/best-cardio-workouts-weight-loss/
  11. https://www.verywellfit.com/the-mental-benefits-of-jogging-2911666
  12. https://www.verywellfit.com/best-home-cardio-exercises-1231273

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