I don't know about you, but spending hours on the treadmill at the gym can make minutes turn into hours. The treadmill creates this strange vortex where time slows and you start to wonder, are there really any benefits of cardio exercise?
Well, if you're truly spending hours on the treadmill, then you already know that the answer is YES. There are tons of benefits to cardio exercise.
The Main Benefits of Cardio
We all have heard about the boring benefits of cardio exercise; you know the standard list:
- Weight maintenance
- Increased strength
- Reduced stress
- Reduced risk of heart attack
- Stronger Heart
So are there any cool benefits from doing cardio?
Like something that you don't know you're getting, that you really need?
Science Nerd Alert: Please stop reading if you hate science, superheroes, or knowing cool stuff.
More Cardio Benefits - Cardio Makes You SuperHuman
As you train the goal of cardio should be to increase your aerobic base. Your aerobic base is how long you can maintain a certain speed over a particular time.
For deconditioned people, their aerobic base may start off as something like two mph for 15 minutes. The goal of cardio should be to increase that. People should be able to maintain a 3-4 mph brisk walk for about an hour.
I know, still sounds boring right? Well here is where it starts to get interesting.
As you improve your aerobic base, your body actually changes at a cellular level. Remember all of those superhero movies where it shows the transformation of the cells?
Yeah, that's what you're doing.
1. Increased Mitochondria
As you increase your aerobic base, one of the benefits of cardio is an increase in the mitochondria that are found throughout your muscle fiber. Mitochondria are the oxygen and energy exchange centers of the muscle. So as every time you push yourself past your aerobic base you are forcing your body to create more mitochondria.
Of course, every person has a genetic cap. Some people are going to see improvements faster than others. There are some that will see more mitochondria than others. Still, I bet you didn't know that cardio built fuel centers in your muscle.
Still, I bet you didn't know that cardio built fuel centers in your muscle.
This is probably my favorite advantage of doing cardio: you build new capillaries. Capillaries are the extra tiny blood delivery systems that give our tissues their nutrients and oxygen.
Deconditioned people don't have a lot of these.
As you increase your cardiac output, you increase the number of capillaries that surround your muscle fibers.
Seriously? Picture this when you get tired, next time you're stuck in the time vortex at minute 9 on the treadmill.
Every step. Every breath.
You're building whole new parts of your body! Try to picture it. I promise it will give you the motivation to make it to minute 11.
3. Increased Sex Drive
We all want this. This is the holy grail of cardio benefits. If your intimate life is perfect, congrats!
Not only will your libido be higher, but as you increase your mitochondria and your capillaries, you're going to perform better too. Stamina, when you tango between the sheets, is practically being superman.
So, I know the last one was reason enough to keep working on your aerobic base, but I have one last superhuman benefit of cardio.
The body is amazing as it responds to the demands we place on it. As you can see with the whole building new energy pathways thing.
Nowhere in the body is this seen more than in the bones. Every 7 years you have a completely new set of bones. And they are a direct reflection of what you've been up to for that time.
So if you're a couch potato, your new bones are going to be less dense and more brittle.
If you've been running, biking, rowing, or doing any steady cardio for that time, your bones are going to be really dense and hard to break.
Cardio gives you stronger healthier bones.
While in your 20's you may not worry about your bone density results. I know that the 70-year old you is super worried about those results.
Now you know, cardio makes you some freaky superhuman. Go out there with your strong bones, super oxygenated blood and increased sex drive.
Go and rule the world.... Or work at Best Buy (whichever)... still, you're going to do it like a superhero.
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