Cardio on a NordicTrack TreadmillHere at we are big, and I mean BIG, fans of cardio exercise. Now we know and advise that one should be incorporating strength training into your workout routines as well, a good balance of both is going to help you reach your goals, yet many people still don’t understand this approach.

Many simply just don’t like cardio or feel that they don’t need it, and this is where they are wrong. We’ve talked before about Why You Should Add Cardio Into Your Life yet never hit specific topics as to why cardio benefits your brain, heart, muscles, lungs and most importantly those pesky fat cells. attempts to explain all The Awesome Benefits of Cardio and we wanted to go ahead and share those with our readers as well, especially those still unsure whether they really need cardio or not.

Cardio for the Brain: “As you lace up, your gray matter sends out get-ready signals…once you’re sweating, the brain delivers feel-good endorphins to help ease the ouch of an all-out workout. ‘Happy’ chemicals, like dopamine, release during and after the workout to life mood – aka the runner’s high.” Believe it or not, your brain benefits quite a great deal form a good cardio sweat. In fact according to an article titled Exercise for Physical and Emotional Health, “moderate exercise has also been found to decrease a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 45%.” Now that sure gives your brain something to think about.

Cardio for the HeartCardio for the Heart: The second you begin cardio, “your heart begins beating progressively faster, pumping out more blood with each squeeze.” During strenuous workouts, like HIIT, it revs up to about 160 to 180 beats per minute. “The stronger your heart the more blood it pumps when it contracts, which in turn lowers your resting heart rate – that way, it doesn’t have to work as hard when you’re not exercising. And a fitter ticker equals a healthier body.”

Cardio for the Muscles: Cardio can help to build your muscles by working your slow-twitch fibers and fast-twitch fibers. You are going to fire more of your slow-twitch fibers during lower-intensity workouts as they are the ones that have more stamina; although they contract slower they have the ability to contract longer. According to an article from “in addition to muscle fiber improvements, cells within your muscles called mitochondria, which are responsible for producing the energy-yielding compound adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, increase in both size and number.”

Cardio for the Fat Cells: According to the previously mentioned Shape article, “your body uses more fat than carbs when you’re in the long, slow zone…clocking long sessions is key because fat takes longer than carbs to break down. But doing them is worth it – fat has 9 calories per gram, and carbs have 4.”

Cardio on the LungsCardio for the Lungs: “Oxygen is the ingredient muscles need to convert carbs and fat into fuel for muscles.” As you start to breath faster and faster during your run, the more and more oxygen it takes to remove the waste products made by your muscles. It may be hard at the time huffing and puffing but just remind “yourself it’s all good because the harder you go at it, the faster you’ll burn off calories.”

As you can see, cardio does a whole lot more than just burn some calories. It truly is beneficial to your whole body, inside and out! Try out these Cardio Treadmill Workouts to help get you started!

Related articles that may be of interest:

The Many Benefits of Cardio Exercise

Fitness Magazine’s Best Cardio Workouts

5 Great Benefits Cardiovascular Exercise

Top Ten Benefits of Running