Dear Cardio Junkie,

On a daily basis (not kidding) I hear, “what do you do for cardio,” or “if I don’t do my cardio then how am I ever going to lose weight?” To answer these very common questions, this blog post is dedicated to the cardio junkie. You know who you are. Enter the gym and dart towards a cardio machine to then park your ass for the next 45 minutes to 90 minutes on the same damn machine. Actually, sometimes you switch to it up and go from one machine to the next, but you get my drift.  Maybe you don’t even enter the gym, but you never skip your 5 mile run or hour long spin class.  Before I personally offend you (because that is NOT the intention of this post), I want to mention that I am ALL FOR the effort and consistency. I dig it. I actually envy you for having the mental endurance to sustain the energy to stay on these stationary machines so long!  Hear me out though. I do not discourage “cardio” by any means, but I do not support the everyday, hour long, minimal effort (if you can watch TV, read a magazine, or check Facebook) method of cardio. Trust me, I love a good sweat, but with as much research nowadays (just google it), that whole “fat zone” concept is LONG GONE. I love this tip from a recent article in, “If you “have to” do an hour or more of cardio per day just to burn off the extra calories you consumed, the answer is to look at your diet. You can spend all day on the treadmill and never outrun your bad choices.” It is what it is.

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If your primary mode of exercise is this drawn out daily cardio, you are wasting your time.  The human body is the just a machine that uses the nutrients consumed (fats, carbs, proteins) to export energy. To loose weight, nutrients consumed (calories) need to be less than calories burned. Sustained aerobic activity at a lower heart rate only promotes a slower caloric burn whereas higher intensity activity (which doesn’t need to be cardiovascular or impacting exercise) maximizes cardiac demand resulting in an increased caloric burn.  So it’s not magic, increased calories burned results in increased fat loss.  Don’t forget the human body is mainly made up of muscle (>600), and without increased muscle mass your body burns less calories, defining the term – “skinny fat,” which is why strength training is imperative to compliment your cardiovascular exercise. Also, spending hours at a sustained effort without recovery will only resort to fatigue when then increases the risk of injury and overtime, we disable ourselves from being able to even get back on that cardio machine again. Based on my experience as a Physical Therapist, I’ve seen more patients with cardio related injuries (hamstring tendonitis, lower back disc herniations, ankle/foot sprains, meniscus – the list goes on), than ANY other surgical, or trauma related injury.

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I understand you look forward to running the treadmill or climbing that stairmaster, so do not totally neglect it, but next time you approach your method of exercise, ask yourself what exactly you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to loose weight? Lean down? Decrease stress? Gain muscle? Whatever it may be, remember the best health outcomes start with a PLAN of action. If you are aimlessly jumping on the treadmill without a purpose besides burning off the pasta salad you had the night before, you will stay in the same circle of minimal or plateaued results. Obviously diet plays a huge factor here, but thats another blog post 🙂 If you feel like “now what,” start with variety, and cross-training.  Don’t think duration. Think INTENSITY. Think about the honest effort you are putting in and remember, what you put in, is what you get back. Do something different every day – i.e. strength training, interval training, swimming, yoga and commit to a steady routine for at least 8 weeks. Treat your exercise schedule like a job and if you don’t show up, you get fired! You got this. Now start today!!

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  • PREVENT INJURY: Each workout is strategically designed to be safe and effective with goals to maximize caloric expenditure, melt off fat, build muscle, and most importantly, prevent injury!
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