Just do cardio like running or cycling – we are told – and the pounds will simply drop off. But what scientists and dieters are starting to realize is that there is a dark side to cardio. Cardio is bad for you if done incorrectly it turns out.
When Cardio is Good
Cardio has had and always will have a place in the tool-belt of everyone who wants to lose weight. Women used to wear garish leotards and flail their arms around to booming music in aerobics classes (which are starting to gain popularity again!).
Men and women can be found pounding the treadmills of the nations gyms on a regular basis. Or frantically spinning their legs on the stationary bike.
That's great news for their weight loss ability and overall health and well-being. Unless they fall prey to the dark side of cardio: when cardio is bad for you.
When Cardio Is Bad
Let's get facts straight:
- A 45 minute jog or cycle is definitely not bad for you.
- Hitting the treadmill every day for 2 hours a time is bad news.
- Long distance marathon running just to lose weight is bad.
There is simply no need to exhaust yourself with hours of running like a hamster in a wheel in order to lose weight.
You can do High Intensity exercises a few times a week for say 20 minutes at a time and see real fat burning results. There's no need to slave away for hours stuck to a machine with sweat lashing off of you.
Get your diet in good order, by maintaining a calorie deficit of say 500 calories every day, and you should lose weight.
Bad Cardio Causes Stress
So why is cardio bad when taken to excess? Because it causes our bodies to get stressed out. This means that Cortisol floods your body with “I'm stressed out!” chemical messengers.
Cortisol is a type of hormone produced when we are stressed, and it's very presence can lead to weight gain.
To put it simply, excessive cardio stresses out your body to the point where you could actually gain weight instead of losing it.
For every step forward, you’re going two steps back.
Cardio can be a physical stress and strain on your joints, bones and back too.
Ever had aches and pains after a gym session? While some minor discomfort after working out might be normal for you, you may notice more serious aches especially if you did a lot of cardio. That's not normal and the culprit is usually too much cardio.
Bad Cardio Stops You Losing Weight
Another hormone that is affected by excessive cardio is T3, produced by your thyroid gland. Among other things, this hormone causes your body to burn off fat stores. That's why many people who have an under-active thyroid gland are overweight.
If you cause your T3 levels to dip below normal due to excess cardio, then you will seriously hinder your weight loss efforts.
Sometimes after a gym session you will feel very hungry and crave carb laden foods. That's not normal, and it's caused by your body using up all it's natural energy resources when doing – you guessed it – too much cardio.
With a lack of energy, especially coupled with a carb restricting diet, your body will make a desperate attempt to hold onto it's energy stores.
By holding on to your body fat.
The number on the scales either won't change or will starting going up rather than down.
You will also feel more fatigued and moody. This is not a fun situation to be in.
Bad Cardio Makes You Age!
When you take cardio to the excess you can cause oxidative damage to your bodies cells. Bad news for those of you who pride yourself on looking young as this causes the aging process to accelerate.
These are just some of the negative effects of cardio.
So What Type of Cardio Should I do?
I'm not saying cardio is bad full stop. When carried out in a healthy fashion for a reasonable amount of time (around 45 minutes at a time) it can really help your weight loss. But for the best results you are going to want to mix in strength training and, if possible, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Ideally, your cardio workouts should not exceed an hour.
But 45 minutes is the ideal time for cardio to last, mixing up exercises while keeping your heart rate in the fat burning zone the whole time.
You can work out at home, but a personal trainer can help tailor a sensible exercise plan to your level of fitness and weight loss goals.
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