In this article we will try to understand the definition of cardio – what is cardio? “Cardio” is a short form of “cardiovascular” – the medical terminology used to refer to the heart and the circulatory system in the body. It is also a slang used by fitness trainers to refer to certain fitness regimes. A cardio workout is primarily designed to make, and keep the heart stronger over a period of time and ensure longevity, health, and all-round wellness.
In a nutshell, a typical cardio workout involves any physical activity that makes the heart beat faster and increases respiration. There are various forms of cardio and theCentres for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine strongly recommend everyone to do at least 30 minutes of cardio on a couple of days in the week if not everyday.
There are various forms of cardio that can, and should be done on different days. By changing the form of exercise – any exercise, not just cardio – one ensures that the targeted muscle group gets the most out of the exercise and will not “get used to” and subsequently stop responding to the exercise after some time as is known to happen in every exercise regime.
Any cardio regime targets large muscle groups, not just the heart and by changing around the cardio exercises to target various muscle groups the entire body is exercised.
The American College of Sports Medicine reiterates that cardiovascular exercises includes any activity that speeds up respiration and the heart rate by using muscle groups rhythmically and repeatedly to improve cardiovascular functioning.
There are three main categories of cardio – High Impact, Low Impact and No Impact cardio. In order to understand fully the definition of cardio – what is cardio, we must understand the importance of these three forms of cardio first.
“Impact” here refers to the body’s contact with the ground during exercise and less to the effect on the cardiovascular system.
There are two ways to look at High Impact cardio; this form of cardio is believed to have a very high impact on the joints because it involves jumping, running, spiriting, skipping and weight training. This form of cardio usually demands that both feet be off the ground at some point during the exercise. It’s about supporting body weight on ones limbs and stressing the muscle groups with additional weights. High impact cardio also has a higher impact on the overall health of the cardiovascular system, though it is difficult to determine if it, or any other form of cardio, is the best for us. Some exercise enthusiasts swear by high impact cardio.
Some people define “low impact” cardio as the form of exercise that involves keeping one foot on the ground by alternating from one foot to the other. However, low impact does not mean that we compromise on intensity. Low impact cardio is usually more aerobic activity such as cycling, swimming, dancing, hiking and the like in addition to some weight-bearing exercises. It is just as effective in conditioning and strengthening the cardiovascular system, bones, and respiratory system and muscle groups as any other form of exercise.
Going by the definition of “impact” being contact with the ground while exercising, No-impact cardio refers to those cardio exercises that one can perform without coming in contact with the ground – or reducing the earth’s gravitational pull on the body while exercising. No-impact cardio exercises greatly reduce, and even eliminate, the constant beating your joints take while exercising. Joints have to absorb the shock each time the body makes contact with a hard surface. This leads to physical problems after some time if the exercises are not performed well or under proper supervision. What is more, no-impact cardio is best for the aged or for people suffering from joint ailments. Swimming and cycling are two forms of no-impact cardio exercises.
Now that you have understood the definition of cardio – what is cardio, you should proceed to follow a cardio regime that best suits you. However, before you do, get your doctor to further clarify the definition of cardio – what is cardio and certify you fit to take to an appropriate cardiovascular regime.