I will post a LOT about the benefits of cardio. I believe it is the REAL “chicken soup” for our bodies and it is the first type of exercise that I did when I started exercising for the first time. When you are obese, like I was, it’s a great place to start and easy to do without any equipment.
How much is too much or too little and where is that sweet spot you need to get that “chicken soup” effect?
Let’s start on the low end. If you aren’t getting at least 3 day per week for 30 minutes each day, you are a smoker. Sorry, but that is the brutal honesty that I promise I will always give you.
What do I mean by that? Guidelines for defining a sedentary person is anyone who is not exercising at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes each day. In 1995, the US surgeon general discovered, and pointed out, that the health risks of living a sedentary lifestyle were almost exactly the same as the risks of smoking. And I am serious when I say that the risk factors are almost identical!
What are the risk factors I am talking about?
Increased risk of:
Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, high overall cholesterol, reduced HDL and increased LDL cholesterol.
That is a pretty scary list! What is even scarier than that…are you a sedentary smoker? The good news is that you can reduce all of these risks by starting a cardio program right now.
How much is too much? There isn’t a whole lot of consensus on too much but you get the most benefits when you get between 30-60 minutes in a day. More than an hour isn’t necessary and, unless you are an athlete getting ready for competition, I get concerned if I learn that someone is getting cardio exercise in excess of that.
So where is that sweet spot? Right around 5-7 days of 30-60 minutes per day.
What I tell ALL of my clients about cardio is that if you are exercising less than 3 days per week (for 30 minutes), you are a smoker.
If you are getting 3 days per week of cardio exercise then your health pretty much stays the same. You are getting enough to prevent further risk but not enough to improve your health.
If you are getting 5 days per week, your health is improving, and there is nothing wrong with 7 days of cardio.
So get moving, and walking counts (try to make it a brisk walk).
If you are looking for something more exciting than walking, try going for a hike, biking, or swimming. If the weather isn’t great for outdoor activities, or you just don’t like exercising outside, join your neighborhood gym and use the plethora of cardio equipment.
It’s only 30 minutes a day, you still have 23 1/2 hours for everything else.