This post is dedicated to cardio, simply because SO damn many of us do it on a regular basis (including me, little miss running addict over here) and feel that it should be a part of our exercise routine, especially one that’s aimed towards fat loss. But how efficient is it? Are you getting the results you're looking for? And perhaps more importantly, are you even getting healthier from it?
Let me start off by saying that I believe all movement is better than no movement. I am also one of those people who are pretty hooked on cardio myself in the form of running. All while knowing damn well that it doesn’t quite serve me and my little system, I still seem to be unable to lay off of it. Sweating from running outdoors is addicting for me, and so is the feeling of that completely clear mind I get from doing it. Hey, cheaper than therapy, right? But if we dissect cardio a little, we'll see that it's not necessarily good for our bodies (biochemically speaking) when executed the conventional way, bringing our heart rate up to about 80% or more of our maximum.
When it comes to our heart and other internal organs, how we live, eat and move demands different biochemical responses. If we look at the heart in relation to conventional cardio, it’s easy to see that we are putting a lot of stress on it by actively forcing it into a situation where it’s required to beat faster in order to supply our muscles and organs with adequate amounts of oxygen and fuel. Like any other muscle, the cardiac muscle can become over worked. The problematic thing is that it usually happens quietly; the fibers won’t tear like other muscles do when we work them. Instead the walls of the heart starts to thicken with chronic overuse, which can cause all sorts of issues, for example cardiac arrhythmia and potentially atherosclerosis. So no, running, spinning, elliptical etc. is not the most ideal activity in terms of heart healthy exercising.
In terms of weight loss…well, let’s start with the obvious. Doing cardio to burn calories is a bad investment. We don’t burn nearly as much as we might think we do from spending 45 minutes on that spin bike or treadmill.
Something that's been proven to work better is to consume foods that allows your body to burn fat and not glucose instead, meaning lower your carb intake and increase your fat intake. This way, you'll always have energy, always burn fat, and your body is not stressed or affected by a roller coasting blood sugar that demands your pancreas to work work work.
Knowing this, I’ve made myself a little promise; to be smarter with my running. My competitive self thoroughly enjoys timing how fast I can run and measure how far I can run, but my rational self understands this isn’t a smart move. Instead, I will focus more on low intensity cardio, combined with some intervals every now and then. Slow and steady will be my mantra.
I will absolutely not write about it if I fail. Ooops.