Cardio Counts

Cardiovascular exercise (also known as aerobic exercise) involves movement that gets your heart rate up to improve how your body uses oxygen.

Cardio is considered to be an essential part of any exercise program. Cardio can help you:

  • Strengthen heart and lungs
  • Reduce stress and improve mood
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lose or maintain weight
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Sleep better
  • Build up endurance so you can be active longer

Any amount of cardiovascular exercise has benefits for your health. But different intensities of cardiovascular exercise can be right for different people.

Moderate-Intensity Activities

Moderate-intensity cardio can be especially good for people starting an exercise program. It raises your heart rate to a point where you sweat and feel you’re working. Walking briskly, ballroom dancing, and general gardening are examples of moderate-intensity cardio activities.  

High-Intensity Activities

High-intensity cardio can help you burn more calories in less time than a moderate-intensity activity in that same amount of time. Some studies show that vigorous exercise, compared to moderate-intensity exercise, is linked with living longer. Running, swimming laps, and jumping rope are examples of high-intensity cardio. If you have a serious medical condition, are older, or have never done vigorous exercise before, discuss your plan for high-intensity cardio with your doctor before you start.

How Hard Are You Working?

Use the talk test to measure the intensity of your workout. You’re doing moderate-intensity activity if you can talk, but not sing. You’re doing high-intensity activity if you can say only a few words without pausing for a breath. 

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