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Is Cardio Bad for You?

By Sarah Baker

Is Cardio Bad For You?

I have always been that girl that generally sticks to the treadmill when working out. To be honest with you, all the weight machines kind of intimidate me, so I just avoid them. I recently joined a new gym and did their free fitness orientation that they offer. I figured I had nothing to lose. During this orientation, not only did he show me a new workout plan, but he also made me use the weight machines so that I for sure knew what I was doing. He also talked to me about how cardio isn’t exactly the greatest thing for you if you are wanting to shape up your body and really lose weight. Since I had really only done cardio, I definitely wanted to know more. 

Start With The Cardio: 

Cardio is a great starting point for your workout or if you are just started or restarting a new workout plan. Doing cardio for 10-15 minutes before as a warm up can really get your blood pumping and heart rate up. It is also a great cool down when your workout is over. Taking 10-15 at the end of your workout to walk on a treadmill is a great way to calm your body and relieve the stress of the workout. Cardio is also a great welcome or welcome back to the fitness world. Whenever I restart the gym, I like to start with cardio for a few weeks in order to get my body ready to work out again. It’s a gradual way to get back in the swing of things. 

The Importance Of Gaining Muscle:

As far as achieving that dream body, cardio isn’t necessarily the way to go, or at least not just cardio. If you think about it, if you are strictly using the treadmill or bike, what are you working except your legs? Honestly, nothing really. In order to really tone your entire body, you need to add things that will allow you to gain muscle. 

Muscle burns calories faster than fat, in fact, 1 pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day. Whereas, 1 pound of fat burns about 2 calories. That’s three times the calories! The only way to change up your workout plan and gain muscle is to do strength training. Running, cycling, or walking is not going to build muscle mass, except for maybe in your legs. 

The Impact Cardio Can Leave On Your Body:

Doing only cardio can have a bad impact on your body. Keep in mind, this is doing mostly cardio and at an intense level and are the worst case scenarios.

Joints. Constantly pounding your joints in to pavement or track can lead to damaging and weakening your joints.

Posture. If you are constantly cycling or jogging without using good posture, it can make you slump automatically and constantly.

Lungs. If you are constantly doing cardio outside, the pollution can have a negative effect on your lungs. Also, you are putting a lot of pressure on them when you are doing intense cardio. You know, that feeling when you can’t breathe, it’s not so good for your lungs.

Shape. You can’t sculpt your arms, abs, etc. if you are just cycling or running.

Muscle. Going only cardio doesn’t build muscle mass and can actually decrease your muscle mass. 

It’s Not All Bad:

Cardio does have some benefits too. As long as you aren’t pushing yourself too far or too hard, cardio can help to build your endurance and improve your blood pressure and cardiovascular health. These improvements come from jogs and long walks, not running marathons, that’s when the damage can occur. 

Cardio is great to do on off days from strength training. I’m not saying don’t do cardio, I’m just saying don’t rely on cardio as your only workout plan to achieve all your body dreams. In order to do that, you have to add strength training and focus on the areas that you are wanting to specifically tone. There are also cardio fitness classes that you can do, if you aren’t so much in to the strength training they can offer a kind of supplement for it. While I don’t recommend doing them every day, some of the boot camps, Zumba, or similar classes, can help to build some muscle more than doing just normal cardio. 

Dream Body, Here We Come!

It’s simple, cardio is a great off day exercise as well as a warm up/cool down, but if you really want to achieve that dream body and lose that weight, strength training and building muscle mass is the way to go. You also have to watch what you are eating. You can’t eat junk and expect magic. Change up your eating habits and add some strength training to your workout plan and you’ll be on your way to the body you’ve always wanted.

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