Updated: May 8
Cardio classes are often associated with the goal to burn mega calories and therefore helping you loose weight. While yes, cardio training can aid in weight loss, there's an even better reason to include this beauty of a workout into your regime: it reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
How does cardio training reduce my risk for CVD?
CVD (also known as heart disease) is the biggest cause of death in America. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, age, smoking history, gender and cholesterol are all risk factors for CVD. You can't change a few of those such as your age, smoking history and gender (drat!) but you can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and improve your diabetes or chance of having any/all those with cardio training. On top of all that, studies have found that increasing your VO2max can also decrease your risk for CVD.
What is VO2max?
"VO₂ max is the maximum (max) rate (V) of oxygen (O₂) your body is able to use during exercise. Oxygen is a critical ingredient in the respiratory process that’s involved in breathing. As you breathe in oxygen, your lungs absorb and turn it into energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP powers your cells and helps release the carbon dioxide (CO₂) that’s created during your respiratory process when you exhale. The benefits are simple: The greater your VO₂ max, the more oxygen your body can consume, and the more effectively your body can use that oxygen to generate the maximum amount of ATP energy."
How can you increase your VO2max?
First, let's sort out 3 zone's of cardio activity. Zone 1 is the equivalent of a light jog or walking. You are able to comfortably maintain a conversation. Zone 2 is where you can talk, but it's slightly uncomfortable. You can get less words in between breathes. Zone 3 is very uncomfortable and you can only answer yes, no, or maybe. For the average person to increase your VO2max, you want to be in zone 2 and maybe touching zone 3.
Next time you head out for cardio, think about what zone you are in. Think about your ability to talk. If you are able to talk fairly comfortably, you need to increase your difficulty. Let's say this: you shouldn't be able to get the full alphabet out between breaths. Maybe getting between H and L would be a good assumption.