Time and time again we are always told that the best exercise to burn fat is cardio. I remember the first time I ever set foot in the gym; my instructor gave me at least half an hour on the treadmill. I honestly thought he did this to punish me (Just kidding!), but there is a reason beginners have to take their time and do it.
It doesn’t matter what you call it; aerobic or cardiovascular or endurance exercise, they all have the same goal - to get your heart pumping and oxygenated blood flowing, with the long-term goal of improving our cardiorespiratory health. I think it’s important to remember that our bodies are made to move, so when they don’t, it shows and we most definitely feel it.
Speaking candidly, the thing that stopped me from working out before was the certain “ideas” I had when it comes to working out. Some people find cardio torture, but others look forward to it; I used to be one of the former. Whenever it’s time to exercise, I would always think it’s a chore that I just want to get over and done with. Before, I found it so hard to understand why people liked doing it. But when I started feeling better and stronger, I would be so bummed whenever I couldn’t exercise.
In the beginning, I just started walking in the mornings. See, the hardest part for me before I started exercising was getting out of the bed. So, I started with getting myself out of the bed and just walking around the neighborhood. I didn’t even put on shoes, I just wore my flip flops and went. I kept it simple until I got used to waking up early. Eventually, I got used to waking up early, so I started putting on my trainers and started alternating brisk walking with jogging. I made sure I was mindful of how my body felt while exercising. Oh, and music helps too! Would you believe that just after a few weeks of doing this (and eating in moderation), my co-workers started noticing that I was losing a few pounds? When I felt ready to take my fitness journey to another level, that’s when I invested and availed myself of a gym membership.
And that’s when I started doing serious cardio exercises. Not that what I was doing outside the gym didn’t count, but let’s just say that the cardio exercises my instructor made me do was way more vigorous and intense - plus, I actually had to do them because someone is holding me accountable. However, I cannot deny the benefits that cardio exercises did to my body:
- It improved my heart health. Our heart is a muscle and for it to stay strong, we must keep working it. When we don’t, this can cause a variety of negative health effects. If we regularly keep our heart pumping at a faster rate, we keep it in shape and healthy. Before I started working out, I would always get winded just walking up the stairs - I did not like how it felt. I noticed that I could go on walking up the stairs for a longer time without running out of breath.
- Another thing cardio exercise has magically cured is my constipation. That’s because cardio exercises also increase the rate of other processes in the body also known as our metabolism. The more intense the cardio session, the more noticeable increase you will see in your metabolic rate.
- Cardio exercise also improved my mood. That’s because it releases “feel good” hormones. This helps ease the symptoms of depression and fatigue. Oh, and it also produces hormones that decrease appetite, I mean, do you really need a better reason to do cardio?
Lastly, cardio burns fat! But what kind of cardio exercise does this? Here are the following ways how to burn fat through cardio exercises:
Walking burns 300 to 400 calories per hour. This kind of exercise is great for beginners, those who are recovering from an injury, or obese. However, this is not the best form of exercise if you really want to lose weight fast. I can only recommend this if you are just beginning and getting used to exercising.
A beginner can follow this simple program:
Frequency: three times a week.
Intensity: 50-70 percent of MHR.
Duration: 20-45 minutes per session.
Running burns roughly 600 calories per hour. This method is more intense compared to walking. It is efficient, but high impact. The main benefit of running for weight loss purposes is that it has a sufficiently high intensity to burn a greater number of calories while stimulating the metabolic rate for a longer period afterward. Running works the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius & soleus muscles (calves) to provide a great lower body workout. It also recruits arms, therefore providing an additional calorie burning effect.
Frequency: three times a week.
Intensity: 65-85 percent of MHR.
Duration: 20-30 minutes per session.
Cycling burns the same amount of calories as running and involves the same muscle group, but has a lower impact. This exercise makes it ideal for virtually anyone. It can be done stationary or on the road.
Frequency: three times a week.
Intensity: 65-85 percent MHR.
Duration: 30-45 minutes per session.
Rowing burns roughly 840 calories an hour. Pretty amazing, huh? Rowing on a machine provides an excellent total body workout. Add to that that it’s an amazing way to strip body fat. It is regarded as the perfect exercise because it works and targets the main muscles of the body. It is more intense than walking and lower impact than running and burns more calories per hour than any other cardio exercise. Fantastic, right?
A personal favorite of mine, swimming! Swimming burns around 600 calories per hour. Just like rowing, it provides a great total body workout while burning a high number of calories. It is also very low impact as you do it in the water.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT is relatively new, but a highly effective way to burn body fat. It provides an intensive aerobic option. It incorporates both high intensity aerobic work with very high intensity component to provide a maximal fat burning effect. When we do regular aerobic training, the body can feel it and it places itself in a steady state thus the same pace is maintained throughout. But with HIIT, the steady state is avoided because the intensity shifts every minute or so.
These exercises will be a breeze with the help of Nutra Botanics’ L-Carnitine!