We’ve come along way since Jane Fonda aerobics. But still, many women are far too attached to their cardio and over-sold to its benefits. I see the same robot women on the same robot machines, spinning their wheels each time I go to the gym. I want to shake them out of their stupor!
How much cardio do I do, you ask? I maintain a low body fat all year round so I must do a lot, right? Well, I do none!
Ok, not exactly true. I ride my bike everywhere, and when I’m not I’m walking or dancing and if a friend invites me to a fitness class I go. But you'll rarely catch me "doing cardio" on a machine.
If I do anything that counts as cardio at the gym it's usually in the form of circuits, HIIT or just taking shorter rests between sets. Sometimes I might skip or use the rower for 5 minutes, but mostly my cardio revolves around lifting weights. I really have such little time and patience for steady pace cardio.
You may have a greater need for cardio than I do. Of course, if you are training for an endurance event like a marathon you'll need to train for it. And if you are particularly sedentary in your day to day life some cardio will be of benefit. And, I get that some people just LOVE their cardio, for whatever reason. I won’t take it away from you but don't be fooled into thinking it's benefits are so great.
A common misconception is that if you are trying to lose weight, cardio is the best way to do it. Yes, it will help burn up some calories but only if it's challenging enough and if your body isn't used to it. The body adapts to any exercise rather quickly and once it does, benefits plateau. If you do 30 minutes of treadmill 3 times a week and have done for many months (or years!), you can be sure your body is adapted to it. If you must do cardio do yourself a favour and mix it up: do different machines, vary the intensity and time. Keep your body guessing.
And if weight loss or management really is your goal, diet is going to have a greater direct effect than cardio. I guess you could say prevention is better than cure.
Even lifting weights will likely deliver a greater metabolic response that will result in fat loss than cardio. I believe that I don't need cardio to keep me lean because I take my weight lifting and nutrition seriously.
Is it time you reassessed cardio's place in your life?