Cardio is exercise at its most basic: it is rhythmic and continuous; it gets your heart rate up and utilizes major muscle groups to burn calories. The reason it works for so many people is that it is relatively low intensity, requires next to zero knowledge and equipment, and conditions your heart to operate at a higher level. Check out our article on walking for some of the most basic health benefits you can get from aerobic exercise.
If you are trying to lose weight however, your time and energy could be spent in better ways. Cardio lacks in efficiency because you burn a baseline of calories while working out and none after. Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption is a scientifically measured rate of elevated oxygen intake in the period after strenuous activity. Essentially the body is trying to erase its oxygen deficit and this afterburn effect helps you lose weight faster. Exercises such as high intensity interval training, while more difficult in nature, are much more efficient in the weight loss department. By constantly forcing your body and heart to adjust to different levels of intensity (think spring, jog, uphill, downhill), your metabolic rate remains elevated for a long time after workout.
I would never tell you to stop doing something that is good for your body, especially if it is something you enjoy. This blog is simply to show you that if you are interested in losing weight, there are more efficient methods. In fact, combining weight training with aerobic exercise is one of the most efficient methods for burning calories (while simultaneously building muscle). Above all, eating well is the key to losing weight effectively. So keep doing what you love and come visit us if you are looking to optimize your health plan this new year!
Dr. Gregory Lind, D.C.