Culture & Lifestyle / The Cardio Confusion: What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise?

The Cardio Confusion: What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise?

Culture & Lifestyle Aug 15, 2018

When it comes to completing your fitness regime, ensure that your heart health is taken into consideration with the right cardio. But what exactly is cardiovascular exercise anyways? We clear up the confusion right here! 

What is cardiovascular activity?

You’ve seen all the instagram posts from Alia Bhatt’s training to Malaika Arora Khan‘s impressive pilates moves and Kareena Kapoor Khan‘s serious cardio workout. The health, wellness and fitness industry seems to always be changing with new fads, and “guaranteed” fixes, so it can be difficult to know what is just another selling point, versus what is actually an effective method. But what we do know is that cardio is important and will never go out of style. Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate. Your heart is a muscle, therefore working it makes it stronger. A stronger cardiovascular system means more capillaries delivering more oxygen to cells in your muscles. This enables your cells to burn more fat during both exercise, sleep and inactivity. Cardio exercise uses large muscle movement over a sustained period of time keeping your heart rate to at least 50% of its maximum level and doing cardio fitness correctly will result in a decrease in fat deposits, and an increase in lean tissue mass.


What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise
What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise: Alia Bhatt during one of her hectic workout routines. Photo Credit: instagram/aliabhatt



Cardio Comes In Different Ways 

There are different types of cardio. Two examples are”‘cardio for weight loss” which would include intermittent sprinting and intense exercise programs that significantly elevate your aerobic power and “cardiorespiratory fitness” which is less intense where the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems are supplying fuel and oxygen during sustained physical activity such as walking or swimming; which is still great for the body because it makes your heart work and increases the blood flow and circulation which will keep you heart healthy (but it’s less intense than sprinting). Both types increase your heart rate which is what you want and for both types of cardio consider the time, intensity, frequency and type/range of motion for your body.


What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise
What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise: The right cardio is important for your heart health. Photo Credit:


The Right Cardio Session 

A cardio session typically consists of repetitive movements of the same type of exercise at a steady intensity. This requires the body to use a variety of muscle fibers and muscle groups at a high capacity. It also forces the body to work harder to create the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that your muscles need for energy. Cardio workouts such as these require that you push yourself to the max for short periods of time, with small increments of rest throughout. This means a high caloric burn and a greater recovery demand on your body. While people tend to lean towards cardio and dieting to slim down, high levels of cardio for an extended time shrinks down both your fat and your muscles.

Being over weight is associated with long-term illness, disease and reduced life quality, although caloric restriction has been the major weight loss strategy, Research from the International Journal of Obesity demonstrates that exercise programs designed for fat loss result in an increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, and increase of cardiovascular fitness and a preservation of fat-free mass.

The Benefits of Doing Cardio Right

Doing cardio fitness correctly will result in a decrease in fat deposits, and an increase in lean tissue mass. Further, the body will mobilize preferentially areas of your body that stores the highest concentrations of adipose fat cells. This is why spot reduction is challenging with cardio (you need to strength train and build more muscle in the area).  Another benefit of doing consistent cardiovascular exercises is that research shows a loss of trunk/core fat and a decrease in insulin concentration.


What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise
What Exactly is Cardiovascular Exercise: The rowing machine provides a great cardio workout. Photo Credit:

Find a regimen that works for you, and that propels you towards your goals and ideal lifestyle and don’t be afraid to try new things and workouts that bring you a sense of accomplishment and strength. Some of the best cardiovascular exercises include: walking, running, biking, rowing, swimming, dancing (yes, bhangra is good for you!)  and jumping rope. Studies show that people who do cardio have lower blood pressure, a decreased risk of osteoporosis, increased stamina and reduced fatigue and stronger lung function.

Main Image Photo Credit: 

Nadine Afari

Nadine Afari


Our Guest Fitness Expert, Nadine Afari (@fitthoney) received her Masters in Science degree from The University of Toronto then relocated to sunny California to accept a job as a health researcher for The University of Southern California. She has been studying health and medicine for 15 years at som...


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