Cardiovascular training like running and stationary biking are great additions to your training routine and science continues to prove the benefits of regular exercise on our health, but can too much cardio actually cause unintended consequences to your body?
When people think of cardio training they typically think of things like running or treadmill, biking or stationary bike, or rowing. Cardiovascular training can and should be much more than just these exercises; activities like dancing, martial arts, grappling, swimming, or group classes are all great additions to a cardiovascular training regiment.
Take a trip to any gym in america and you will see the cardio equipment full of people running, biking, stair stepping, and rowing. While these exercises will increase your health and life expectancy, doing the typical 30 minutes a day 5 days a week of steady cardio training can have some negative consequences.
Our bodies are incredibly efficient at adapting to stressors and challenges. When we first start jogging it is incredibly tough on our bodies and we may feel as if we are going to die; over time our bodies adapt in many different ways that make the exercise easier to perform. As we continue doing the same exercises, they get easier and our bodies become more efficient: this is the whole concept behind health improvement; however, when we continuously do the same exercises at the same pace our bodies will actually learn to burn less energy and do the same amount of work with less effort: this can SLOW your metabolism down over time.
There are studies that suggest that women who engage in regular slow paced cardio vascular training have lower metabolisms and underactive thyroids. Steady state cardio also increases cortisol levels and tends to increase fat storage on our midsections; moderate paced, regular cardiovascular training also tends to breakdown muscle and facilitate muscle loss. If you compare a competitive distance runner to a competitive sprinter the differences in their bodies are staggering, distance runners are often very thin with little muscle mass and a small “gut”, while sprinters are often very muscular, very lean, and very defined.
Cardio should be a part of all exercise routines, but should not be the only part of one. Adding exercises like: strength training, yoga, interval training, sprints, and calisthenics will ensure that you don’t stagnate and shut down your metabolism.
When doing cardio vascular training, always seek to perform varied intensity and different exercises when possible. For example: do your training in intervals of high, medium, and low intensity instead of just moderate intensity, do different exercises, vary difficulty (use incline on treadmills, or increase resistance on stationary bikes). By adding different exercises, different intensities, and different resistances you will reduce your bodies ability to adapt and you will make greater gains in cardiovascular health and weight loss.