We all know that cardiovascular exercise is good for us. It helps keep our hearts healthy and can even improve our metabolism..or at least help burn off that extra glass of wine last night ;) But what kind of cardio is the best?
Simple answer: It depends.
There are several factors that go into choosing the best cardio for you. It's all individual based on your goals, health status, accessibility and ultimately your own personal preferences. When trying to decide what the "best" type of cardio is for you, there are a few important questions you must ask yourself first.
1. What are your goals?
Are you wanting to lose weight? Improve your overall health? Be able to run a 5k without stopping? Or are you just wanting to do something that gets you off the couch?
Once you decide what your goal is, it will be much easier to decide what kind of cardio is the best fit for you. Someone who is wanting to improve their 5k run time, probably shouldn't be using cycling as their main form of cardio.
2. How is your health?
If it's been a long time since you've done any sort of cardiovascular exercise, it probably isn't the best idea to start off with running ten miles per day. Not only is it going to make you miserable, but you could easily hurt yourself! Starting slow and finding something that you enjoy is going to be key.
It is also important to look at any injuries or other health conditions that could limit you from doing certain kinds of exercises. For example, if you have bad knees, running probably isn't the best option. But cycling or swimming could be great low-impact alternatives!
4. What resources do you have available?
If you have access to a gym, there are a plethora of cardio options to choose from! Treadmill, bikes, stair master, swimming, aerobic classes etc. But if you aren't a member of a gym, you have just as many option! Going for a run/walk, riding you bike outdoors, running up and down the stairs of your apartment building etc. You can even by your own equipment and workout at home! The main concern with some of these options is the weather, but there are ways around that, just gotta get creative ;)
You should also take into consideration time as a resource. If you have all day to kill, a nice long walk outdoors could be a great, relaxing way to get some cardio in. But what if you're strapped for time? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) could be your solution! The main premise behind this kind of training is working out in short spurts of maximum effort. For example, sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds, with a 1 minute break, repeating for a total of 10 minutes. You don't need a lot of time for this kind of cardio and once you try it, you'll be thankful it's over so quick!
5. What kind of cardio do you enjoy?
This is the ultimate question you need to ask yourself. Regardless of any other factor, if you dread exercising, there's no way you can expect to stick with it! Choose something that you find fun and enjoyable, it doesn't have to be excruciatingly difficult or for long periods of time (unless that's what you enjoy of course). You just need to find something that you actually enjoy, that's the key.