What exactly is it, and which exercises qualify? We talked to Ashley Kelly, NASM, a certified personal trainer at Bach in New York City and 2016 Olympian in track and field, to clear things up.
Common exercise terms can get thrown around a lot before you realize you don’t actually know what they mean. And when deciding on a workout class or video to do, getting confused on the terminology might lead you to a workout you’re not ready for or just don’t want to do. Let’s start with a common one: cardio.
What Is Cardio?
The main focus of cardio is to get your heart rate up and keep it there. “In a nutshell, it’s the physical training of the lungs, heart, and blood vessels,” Ashley told POPSUGAR. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), cardio is rhythmic and continuous exercise that uses your large muscle groups to get your blood pumping.
That rhythmic, continuous nature is important. “You’re training your heart rate at a steady rate during cardio,” Ashley said, instead of pushing it up and letting it drop. The exercise itself doesn’t matter as much as that high, steady heart rate; as long as you have that, Ashley said, you’re doing cardio. And if this sounds a lot like aerobics, you’re right – they’re the same thing, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
What Are Examples of Cardio Exercises?
You can get cardio training with any kind of exercise that brings up your heart rate, Ashley said. Classic cardio exercises, though – the ones that trainers and other fitness professionals often refer to as cardio – are things like . . .
As for how often you should be doing cardio, the ACSM recommends 150 minutes every week, which you can split up into 30 minutes, five days a week.
Cardio has numerous benefits, from burning fat and preventing disease to upping your mood. So now that you know exactly what it is and which exercises qualify, hop on the treadmill, start pedaling in a Spin class, or hit your neighborhood sidewalks – whatever you feel like to get your heart pumping.