Over 40: 5 Big Reasons to do Cardio Everyday

How much do you move each day? Most people tend to slow down as they get older with a trend of physical activity decreasing with age*. Leading an active life is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing and by bringing a little cardio into your daily life, you can reap big health rewards.

According to the NHS website, 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week is enough to reduce the risk of major illnesses and reduce the risk of early death by 30%!

*The US CDC report Physical Activity Among Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2020 and the UK Sport England Older Adults research provide interesting insights into the aging population and physical activity.

What is Cardio?

Cardio is the shorter term for cardiovascular exercise. This type of exercise is classed as aerobic exercise because it demands a greater amount of oxygen intake and your heart rate increases to deliver that oxygen around the body. Examples of cardiovascular exercise include:

  • Brisk walking, jogging and running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobic classes like Zumba, dance or HIIT

Any exercise that increases your breathing and heart rate is great for your cardiovascular health and a good rule of thumb on setting a beneficial level, is to feel slightly breathless, but still able to hold a conversation while you are performing the activity.

What is a Moderate Level of Cardio?

A moderate level of cardio may also be referred to as an endurance workout, steady-state cardio, low intensity steady state cardio, or being in the fat-burning zone. Basically what this means is that you are working at a lower intensity which you can endure over a longer period, think long-distance running or swimming laps in the pool. You set a moderate pace that you can keep going over a longer period, i.e., 45 minutes. This is the type of exercise where you feel out of breath, but can still have a chat while you work.

What is HIIT

HIIT is an abbreviation for High Intensity Interval Training. This is a more vigorous form of cardiovascular exercise, usually shorter in duration, that swings between low-intensity exercise intersected with a minute or two of high-intensity work. An example of this is sprinting on a treadmill for a minute and then reducing the speed to a light jog for several minutes before performing the sprint again.

What kind of Cardio is best?

There are a lot of different studies out there that provide comparisons for different types and styles of cardio exercise, but ultimately, choosing the right cardio for you will depend on a few factors:

Your current fitness level

If you have high levels of fitness already, then you are probably taking part in both moderate and vigorous exercise regularly. If you are just starting though, it is important to build up gradually, so you might start with moderate cardio, appropriate to your current fitness level. It is important to go at your own pace, it is not a competition, it is a personal transformation and you will want to avoid the risk of injury. If you are feeling lost in setting your pace, a personal trainer at the gym can help you set up a work plan.

Your current health

If you have any health concerns, you need to seek advice from a medical professional before planning a new fitness regime. Exercise is beneficial and does improve health, however, for those who have health concerns, it is vital that your workout is carefully planned and does not make any condition worse. Equally, if you are injured, you need to recover and exercise when your doctor says it is safe to do so.

Your preferences

Hate running? Then maybe cycling or rowing might be more appealing. Can’t stand loud music and high-energy classes, maybe a relaxing swim would be better. You are only going to be motivated to exercise if you enjoy the activity, why do something you hate?

5 Big Reasons you Need to do Cardio

Whichever type or style of cardio you choose, taking part in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day will have profound benefits on your overall health and well-being. You can read more about the benefits of exercise here 7 Benefits of Fitness Over 40

Heart Health

One of the biggest reasons you should get your daily dose of cardiovascular exercise is to improve the health of your heart. Your heart is a muscle and just like any other muscle, it grows stronger when it gets a good workout.

Keeping your heart healthy is vital, especially as you age because ultimately a weak heart cannot pump blood around your body and could lead to heart failure.

A strong heart means:

  • Your blood pressure will be good – healthy blood pressure means less stress on the heart, arteries, and blood vessels.
  • Blood delivers oxygen to the body – good circulation means that more oxygen can be transported to the organs, muscles, and tissues.
  • The brain needs oxygen too – good circulation means the brain receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function.

Lose Weight

Cardiovascular exercise is a great calorie burner and paired with a balanced diet you will shed the pounds. Be sure to balance your workouts though, there is too much of a good thing, and neglecting strength training in favour of cardio can result in a loss of much sought-after lean muscle mass.

When you take part in cardio exercise, you are using energy to move, the more intense the exercise, the more calories you will burn. This is not to say that low-intensity exercise doesn’t have its place though, it just means you need to work for a longer duration to get the same calorie burn.

Reduce Risk of Serious Disease

As well as helping to strengthen your heart, daily cardio can help reduce the risk of other illnesses and diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet also help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, and high cholesterol.

Boost Your Mood

Cardio releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that leave you feeling happier following your workout. Initially, you might find it hard to get motivated to exercise, but over time, as your mind starts to associate exercise with the rewarding feel-good factor, you will start looking forward to your workouts.

Improve Sleep

The physical tiredness you feel from a good workout promotes a better night’s sleep, helping you wake up feeling refreshed and energised for the day.

Sleep is really important because this is the time when your body takes care of its maintenance and repairs, for example renewing cells, building muscle, and recovering from illness or injury. Have you noticed how much better you look after a restful night’s sleep compared to a bad night? That’s because your body needs time to keep you in tip-top condition.

Remember to consult your medical professional before starting any new physical activity and seek appropriate advice from exercise professionals to ensure you are working out safely to avoid injury.