The Most Effective Cardio Workouts

The Most Effective Cardio Workouts

October 6, 2023

From High Fitness to Jumping Rope and More

It’s no secret that cardio activity is excellent for your health and wellness. It increases your cardiovascular health and lowers your resting blood pressure and heart rate, not to mention it is ideal for developing a more precise, improved mindset.

Each individual has many cardio forms, from running to dancing, kickboxing, and cycling, depending on their fitness level and desired regimen. Let’s dive into the why, followed by the what and how.

We are here to talk about the best cardio workouts and how each type of cardiovascular routine will help you achieve the fitness goals that you are looking for.

Why do Cardio?

The best cardio is not only healthy for your heart and mind but is also enjoyable. It allows you to unwind, relax, and center your mind on your body, breathing, and movement. Cardiovascular exercise includes running, biking, swimming, and activities that increase your heart rate. The truth of the matter is that most exercise does this. Cardio differs from other forms of exercise because it is aerobic—drawing from the body’s oxygen stores versus anaerobic, which draws on glucose stores. Both forms of exercise have benefits, but when most individuals refer to cardio, they’re referring to aerobic exercise.

women in a dance fitness class

So, why do cardio?

Cardio exercise is excellent for skin, weight, mental health, immune system, and sleep. It is challenging but monotonous enough that our minds can wander, zone out, or focus on our internal systems. Cardio is an excellent way to reduce stress levels and pent-up frustration or energy from the day. Not to mention, most cardio forms are cost-effective because they’re free and easy to participate in. Let’s dive into the specific benefits of cardio training in further detail.

Improved Brain Health

A study in the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) found that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of dementia. Not to mention, cardio workouts help improve memory and our ability to think clearly. It helps to combat a decline in brain function with age and protects against other brain-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s.

Stimulate Circulation

When we do cardio exercises, we clean out the “muck” in our system, allowing for increased blood flow and circulation to our heart, brain, and other organs, which helps reduce the chance of stroke in adults. Increased circulation also tremendously benefits our skin, increasing oxygen supply and producing clearer skin.

Improve Mood, Sleep, and energy

Our moods can fluctuate each day. Regular cardio workouts help boost our mood by reducing stress, improving self-esteem, and releasing tension-fighting hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The endorphins released after a stellar workout also provide energy throughout the day. And when you’re ready to sleep, cardio allows you to snooze faster and maintain REM for longer.

Helps to Manage Chronic Conditions

Cardio exercise is a valuable ally in managing symptoms and chronic conditions. Regularly engaging in cardio exercises can significantly reduce pain and improve the quality of life for individuals who have arthritis.

What are the Traditional Forms of Cardio?

So, you’re interested in including forms of cardio into your exercise routine, but you’re wondering which one is right for you. The good news is that there are many forms of cardio from which to choose. Let’s start by discussing the more traditional methods to achieve a total body workout.

Running

Running is the most commonly thought of form of cardio activity. It is a high-intensity exercise, doesn’t require any cardio equipment, helps burn calories, and allows you to move at your own pace. If you’re interested in getting your heart pumping, consider running at different intervals with periods of sprinting. You may also incorporate breaks in your run for jumping jacks, squat jumps, high knees, mountain climbers, or other lower-body movements.

men in a ride class

Cycling

Cycling is another prevalent form of exercise targeting your cardiovascular system. It’s versatile, fun, and targets your lower body leg muscles. Not to mention, it’s a lower impact than running—aka gentle on your joints. Cycling requires keeping your core tight and maintaining proper alignment of your entire body. The best part? You can participate in cycling indoors and outdoors, on mountain trails or paved roads, on a road bike or mountain bike. It’s totally up to you.

Swimming

Swimming is an excellent way to achieve a total body workout. It requires control and understanding of how to move using the proper form. In this way, it isn’t quite as intuitive as running. Still, it is more gentle on the participants’ bones and joints, which is why it is a popular activity for older adults, those coming back from an injury, or those interested in a low-impact form of cardio. As you progress in your ability to swim well, there are resistance tools that can help to improve your cardiovascular health further.

Jump Rope

Jump rope is one of the most effective cardio workouts to achieve an adequate calorie method to lose weight. Along with the cardio benefits you get from the jump rope, coordination, and technique are some of the other gains you will have from this exercise. In the health benefits area, jump rope is an excellent exercise to help you regulate high blood pressure levels.

Being a high-impact training method, be careful when you start your jump rope exercise. Take care of aspects like the correct distribution of your body weight and standing position, and go at your rhythm. That way, you won’t suffer any injuries by making sure you land in the correct form when jumping. Taking care of your knees is essential to avoid any impact.

What’s Trending in Cardio?

Here’s the coolest part of this article: innovations. Not only does cardio come in traditional forms, but individuals are constantly innovating and developing new methods for individuals to enjoy. While some forms trend briefly, others have made a name for themselves and have adopted into professional athletes’ and casual exercisers’ routines. Let’s explore three trending methods of cardio exercises further.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT delivers precisely what its name states: high-intensity exercises done in intervals. It has become increasingly popular as the training routine is excellent for burning fat stores in the body, sculpting muscle, and increasing metabolic burn rate.

Crunch has its own HIIT Zone, exclusive classes with state-of-the-art training, and heart-pumping, team-based workouts. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun. NASM-accredited, HIIT Zone and HIIT workouts are available at select locations. Search here.

Kickboxing

Kickboxing is another sport that is perfect for cardio workouts. For an upper body to gain strength and other fitness and health benefits, kickboxing is a cardio exercise that combines coordination, strength, and cardio all at once.

Among other advantages, we can also find the calorie-burning potential from the exercises and the high availability of classes and online tutorials. Kickboxing is the perfect sport to release stress, and it is also helpful to reduce anxiety levels, improve relaxation, and regulate the sleeping cycle.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa is a form of yoga that combines movements and positions to form a seamless flow. The primary focus in Vinyasa is the movement itself and the breath, which leads to many physical and mental benefits. Vinyasa’s variable nature helps participants develop a well-rounded body in a risk-free environment, as the motions are unique and based on natural movements.

Yoga has become a top form of cardio and meditation in recent years. It encourages individuals to focus not only on their outer health but also on their inner health as they seek to relax, unwind, and focus inward.

men stretching

Dancing

Sometimes, during our workout routines, we may feel that the session is unsuccessful unless we experience pain or extreme tiredness. We are here to tell you that the ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset is only sometimes proper. Dancing is one sport that provides a full-body workout within just one hour, and it’s also one of the most enjoyable ways to do a cardio workout.

In addition to helping you achieve your fitness goals, dancing sessions offer other benefits, such as improving body balance, coordination, and rhythm.

Dancing sessions are suitable for all fitness levels and age ranges, making it a pioneer of group fitness classes. As a bonus, there are various dancing rhythms you can practice and learn while incorporating them into your exercise routine.

Crossfit

Crossfit is another cardio workout we could not leave off the list. Crossfit group classes incorporate intense cardio exercises ideal for gym users who wish to experience an intense cardio session. CrossFit combines different functional movements within various workout routines to experience an entire body workout training session and its benefits.

For an even better experience in CrossFit cardio workouts, hiring an experienced coach or trainer is advisable to help the group members achieve their goals without suffering any accidents or injuries while doing the routine.

women stretching

Some Other Cardio Exercises

We have discussed the basic cardio training exercises for you to achieve a functional workout that helps you reach the fitness goals you are aiming for. Additionally, we’ve covered cardio’s health benefits to your body. As an extra tip, here are some additional cardio exercises you can incorporate into your routine to expand your fitness knowledge.

Plank Position

In addition to being an excellent cardio workout, the plank position is perfect for strengthening your abs and improving your overall conditioning. Make sure to position your right and left feet correctly to perform the exercise with proper form. There are different variations of the plank position, including the high plank position, that personal trainers are knowledgeable about. Feel free to ask your trainer if you have any questions or uncertainties about plank exercises.

Push up Position

Push-ups are among the best exercises you can incorporate into your fitness routine. In addition to being an excellent way to strengthen your muscles, push-ups will help you build the cardio endurance you need to continue enhancing your fitness regimen.

Stair Climber

The stair climber is one of the best cardio workouts available among cardio machines. Its high-intensity training offers a complete aerobic exercise that brings benefits such as fat burning, an increased calorie burn rate, and the strengthening of your lower body muscles. However, as it involves high impact, we also advise you to be cautious about aspects like bending your knees or the position of your feet while performing the exercise. Looking after our bodies is one of the best practices we can adopt.

Some tips for your cardio exercise

For you to have a better cardio exercise experience, here are some tips for you to implement before starting your training:

  • Wear comfortable cardio clothes
  • Don´t forget to warm up and cool down before your exercise sessions
  • Due to the high demand for energy, don´t forget to stay hydrated before, during, and after the cardio session
  • If you are working with a high-impact exercise, take care of aspects like posture, weight, and other elements to avoid accidents or injuries.

Cardio for a Better Lifestyle

It’s no secret that cardio exercise is excellent for your health and wellness. It increases your cardiovascular health and lowers your resting blood pressure and heart rate, not to mention it is ideal for developing a more precise, improved mindset. Remember, there are many forms of cardio to choose from, so try one or try them all. Keep a fitness journal and write down how you feel after participating in each condition. You’ll discover the correct route for you to combine fun with fitness.

Crunch’s group fitness classes and personal trainers promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It is an environment built for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now.

FAQ

What other cardio workouts can I try?

Rowing machines, Push-ups, and other cardio machines are always a good alternative for an efficient cardio workout.

What should I take into consideration?

Being high-impact exercises, we must always take care of little aspects that can make a difference to avoid injuries, from posture to listening to our body about the intensity of the workout; don’t force it too much.

Is it advisable to have rest periods?

Letting our bodies take a break after an intense workout is essential.

What factors can contribute to a toned and shaped cardio body

Aspects like body composition have an important role in this. Some people react differently to the cardio exercises. And very few people enjoy these types of activities. What is certain is that everybody will enjoy the full body benefits that an accurate cardio workout can bring to you.

Crunch’s group fitness classes promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It’s an environment for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now. Your goals are made to be crushed. With Crunch, you’ll have the tools, resources, and support to make it happen.

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