When people talk about working out, there are several buzzwords and phrases that appear in the conversation that most people – those who do not exercise intensely – either don't know about or don't really think about that often.
One of these words is: cardio. Cardio is one of the single most important aspects of exercising and honestly most forms of exercise are secondary to this form of exercise.
Since it is so essential, everyone who does any regular form of workout has their own form of cardio.
Some of these are just nice little warm-ups at the beginning of a workout, others are days long exercise marathons that would short circuit a normal person's heart.
Amongst all these opinions about cardio, there is one dominant one: it is necessary. But considering that most laymen don't really know about cardio, starting to do it can be daunting and confusing.
Therefore, we decided to create this article, in order to give you a bunch of cardio workouts for beginners, so you don't have to search for them.
What Is Cardio?
Before we get started, let's try to understand what exactly cardio is.
In simple terms, cardio is an aerobic activity that increases your metabolic rate (the amount of energy you burn per unit time) by increasing the oxygen consumption of your body.
This means that during cardio, you will breathe more deeply than usual, but also pant less. As a result, your heart beats faster as well.
The reason cardio is so important is that it allows you to burn fat effectively through two main methods: increased caloric expenditure from higher intensity work and increased fat oxidation from cardiovascular effort.
Both of these mechanisms require sufficient amounts of oxygen, which is where cardio comes into play.
This Is How You Burn Calories With Cardio
During low-intensity cardio like walking or jogging, your muscles use stored glycogen (carbohydrates) as fuel. The more muscle mass you have, the better this works.
However, if you want to lose weight, it might be easier to focus on high intensity cardio.
When you increase your pace to a higher level, your body uses fats instead of carbohydrates as its primary source of energy. This results in faster metabolism and burning of calories.
In addition to using more carbs for fuel, when your body burns fat, it produces heat.
This means that your core temperature rises slightly and your heart pumps harder to keep up with this rise in temperature.
All of this causes your heart to beat faster, which makes you feel warmer and, therefore, more comfortable.
This effect is called thermogenesis. If you want to make sure that you're getting enough cardio, then simply make sure to exercise at high intensities.
Types Of Cardio
There are three main types of cardio: endurance, interval training and sprinting. Endurance cardio is usually done at moderate intensities, so it doesn't cause too much stress on your body.
It consists of continuous periods of exercise without rest. Interval training alternates between bouts of intense running or cycling, with breaks in between. Sprinting involves bursts of fast movement followed by longer recovery periods.
Endurance cardio is great for losing weight, since it helps you build stamina while reducing calorie intake.
Depending on the type of exercise you choose, you may burn anywhere from 50 to 150 calories per hour. For example, if you walk briskly for 30 minutes, you'll burn around 100 calories.
Most forms of endurance cardio are the regular forms of exercise we know and understand, like walking, jogging, cycling, and so on.
Interval training is best for those who want to achieve maximum fat loss. You start off with a lower intensity and gradually move towards a higher intensity, making sure not to overdo it.
During intervals, you alternate between short bursts of vigorous exercise and shorter periods of rest. The key here is to perform each burst of exercise as hard as possible.
So, if you go for a run, sprint for 15 seconds and jog for 10 seconds, you'll burn more calories than if you just ran continuously for 30 seconds.
Of course, if you've been sedentary for some time, it's advisable to start with a lower intensity first.
Sprinting is ideal for improving speed and power. While other cardio exercises help improve strength and endurance, sprints actually target anaerobic performance.
Anaerobic refers to activities that require less oxygen than aerobic ones.
Examples include sprinting, jumping rope and hill climbing. Once you reach maximal efforts, your body starts producing lactic acid, which builds up in your bloodstream.
Lactic acidosis can lead to cramps and even death if left untreated. But don't worry -- sprints only last a few seconds; your body will get used to them after a couple of weeks. It is also worth checking out supplements that help reduce lactic acid.
Cardio Workouts For Beginners
If you want to lose weight or just get fitter, you should aim to do about 20-30 minutes of cardio every day.
Beginners can also benefit from doing a total of 2 hours of cardio per week.
Aim to work out at least four times a week, but if you have time restrictions, you can try to fit in five sessions instead. As always, listen to your body and stop exercising if you experience any pain or discomfort.
With that little caveat out of the way, let's get on and discuss some cardio workouts for complete beginners:
This is probably the most common form of cardio exercise. Start slowly, at low speeds, and increase the pace gradually.
It's recommended that you run or walk for about 30 minutes daily.
If you wish to lose weight, it will help to know how many calories running burns. To tone up, add resistance (like weights or a treadmill), or switch to a different kind of activity such as swimming.
Cycling is another popular way to get fit, and is also one of the best cardio for bodybuilding. You need to be able to ride a bike to use a stationary cycle effectively, so check whether you meet these requirements before buying one.
Some people find cycling easier than running because they can focus on their technique rather than concentrating on their speed.
However, if you're new to cycling, you might feel dizzy and disoriented when starting out.
It's important to get yourself familiarized with cycling techniques by using treadmills or indoor cycles.
Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes that allow you complete freedom of movement.
If you're looking for a bike that is both efficient and practical, check out this list of the best air resistance exercise bikes for your home gym.
Unlike a bicycle, a treadmill allows you to set your own pace. Choose a machine that suits your needs: a home version is often cheaper and lighter than an expensive gym model.
Set the incline according to your fitness level. Walk, jog or run on it, depending on what you're looking to accomplish.
This is an excellent way to maintain good health and lose weight. People who swim regularly tend to develop strong muscles and bones and are better equipped to deal with stress.
For starters, decide a pool that offers laps or lengths and learn how to adjust the water temperature accordingly.
A warm bath will relax your mind while keeping your body cool. In addition, you can buy a swimsuit designed specifically for women.
Dancing has long been known to boost energy levels and provide great cardiovascular benefits. You can dance alone or join a class.
There are many forms of dancing, including ballroom, salsa, line dancing, swing dancing and belly dancing. Just remember to take care of your feet and avoid wearing high heels.
Which Sports Are Great For Cardio?
While the workouts above are great for cardio, especially for beginners, they rely on the individual being self-motivated. Some people want to work out, but find the motivation difficult to find.
These people find it easier if they are engaged in set activities that involve teams, so they are socially obligated to go work out.
So, for these people we have created a secondary list, so you can still get some cardio in without having to worry about motivating yourself.
Tennis is the perfect sport for anyone who wants to stay fit, lose weight and improve their coordination.
Beginners can practice tennis indoors, away from direct sunlight, and experienced players can play outdoors year-round.
The game requires physical strength, flexibility and endurance. It also improves eye–hand coordination.
Basketball is played all over the world and is a very popular team sport.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been playing basketball for years, it is definitely a sport that can be played by almost anyone, and it works up a sweat.
3) American Football
Football is a fast-paced game where you must move swiftly and accurately to pass, catch, block and tackle opponents.
If you want to become more active and keep fit, try football.
This form of exercise involves running, jumping, tackling, passing and catching. While this type of game may not be suitable for everyone, it is one of the most popular sports in the United States.
Volleyball is another fun game that works the whole body. Players run up and down the court, jump and throw balls at the opposing player’s goal.
To make it even more interesting, players often wear protective clothing such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and shin guards.
Soccer is one of the oldest team sports in existence and is considered by many to be the best.
It is played with a large round ball and involves dribbling, passing, shooting, kicking, heading and defending.
Swimming is an excellent aerobic activity that burns lots of calories. You don't need any special equipment to swim; however, you will need to learn how to float.
Although swimming isn’t the fastest way to burn calories, it can help you maintain your fitness while reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Rowing is one of the simplest forms of cardiovascular exercise out there. It is not only a good cardio exercise, but is also effective in building strength. This article discusses what muscles rowing work and how to properly use different types of rowing machines. However, rowing machines aren’t inexpensive – they usually cost between $600-$2000.
But if you have access to a rower, then you'll get a much better workout at a lower price tag!
Golf is a fun sport that anyone can play. The average golf course has 18 holes, so it's perfect for beginners.
In order to play golf, you will need a set of clubs, a bag, and some practice swings. And if you're serious about improving your swing, you might consider joining a golf club.
Hiking allows people to enjoy nature without having to travel long distances. Hikers often go off trail, through forests or grassy areas, climbing hills and mountains.
Some hiking trails are short and simple, while others are extended and more difficult. If you’re looking for something new to do, hiking could be the ideal option.
Boxing is a favorite cardio workout for men as it is great in building upper body muscles like biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and back. Like other martial arts, boxing also improves your mental focus and self-discipline.
12) Skiing & Snowboarding
Skiing is a winter sport which requires balance, concentration and agility. It includes downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, cross country skiing and telemark skiing.
Baseball is a team sport similar to soccer. The aim is to hit a baseball towards a specific area on the field called home plate, which would require good strength in the arms.
Exercises targeting the triceps and biceps can help to increase arm strength for baseball.
Just like soccer, pitchers and catchers play different roles. Pitchers pitch the ball and the catcher calls the hitters plays.
There are four infield positions: first base, second base, third base and shortstop. Two outfield positions include left field and right field. Offensive teams may have three outfielders and nine infielders.
Defensive teams may have eleven defensive players including pitcher, catcher, outfielder, infielders and two extra basemen.
So, as you can see, there are many sports and forms of exercise you can do to commit yourself to cardio workouts.
Not only that, but all these forms of exercise are for beginners as well, so you don't have to worry about it being too hard or too difficult for you to do. We also created the complete guide for gym beginners if you are planning to join one.
Remember that all forms of exercise are at your own pace, so don't worry so much about getting it perfect and worry more about just starting.