Dos and Donts of Cardio

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Do’s & Dont’s of Cardio

Author: Coach Krista


My definition of cardio might vary from what others think cardio is.  A typical thought process is that cardio is either going for a run or using an elliptical for no less that 30 min and if you don’t get a sweat going or your heart racing then it wasn’t even worth it.  This particular view of cardio is thought to be the only way to see any weight loss or body transformation results. This is just untrue. My definition of cardio is any consistent exercise movement that gets your heart rate elevated above its’ sedentary state.  Key word being consistent movement. The most simple, cheap, and easy form of cardio to me, is walking. Yes, walking is cardio.

DO go for a walk!  Walking is a great form of cardio because walking consistently keeps your heart rate at an elevated state: cardio!  I don’t know about you, but I sweat my butt off when I go outside on a nice day and take a 30 min walk. It feels great, it’s low impact, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, weather depending.

DON’T avoid walking because you think it’s not good enough!  Walking will get you results especially if you're going from a sedentary lifestyle to walking for 30 min a day.  If you don’t believe me, start walking 30 min a day for four months straight and tell me what result you see. You’ll feel better, sleep better, be less stressed, and get to enjoy the weather daily.

DO supplement your weight training with running/walking/”cardio”.  If you’re like me and like to feel nice and warm before lifting weights or doing bodyweight movements, run 10-20 min prior to your workout.  I use running intervals as my warm up, not really pushing 100%, but running hard enough to get my heart rate up and muscles warm to have a better weight lifting workout.  There is something to say about whether you should do cardio before or after your weights. I really don’t think this matter unless you're training to do something in weight lifting and need your energy to go towards your weight lifting workout.  In that case I’d say do the cardio after.

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DON’T only run every single day.  Running is fantastic don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it.  But, when you only use running as your only form of exercise, your body takes a toll.  Running is tough on the joints and doesn’t build muscle, so over time you may feel a weight loss result, but muscle mass could also have been lost along the way.  Running can put some bodies in a state of stress which releases cortisol and then lead to weight gain instead of loss because post run hunger and lack of recovery becomes all too real.  Anyone ever train for a long road race and gain weight? I know I have! August 2018, was my first and only half marathon. I ran twice a week to train for it. One run being shorter sprints/intervals and the second being my long run.  During the training we were in our first year at the gym, I couldn’t get my eating under control (due to stress) and then add the stress of running to my plate. I was almost 10 lbs heavier than my normal weight on the day of the race.

DO refuel with clean food choices post cardio. You will see great results from your cardio sessions in you keep your caloric intake clean and light.  Refuel with carbohydrates, protein, and veggies, our definition of a meal. You should also rehydrate yourself with lots of water.

DON’T think you can eat all the cheats you want after long cardio workouts. Believe it or not, you didn’t really burn that many calories on your 30 min run. Cardio doesn’t equal cheat meals. In fact, like I mentioned above, since running/traditional cardio doesn’t build muscle, it’s actually worse to crush poor food choices post sessions due to the fact that your muscle mass and muscle recovery is what leads to the day long calorie burn and hammering your joints and breathing heavy doesn’t necessarily lead to post workout calorie burn. Infact, if you are in the stress cortisol state post run, you will potentially store all that bad food after that cardio session.

DO ask a professional for help on how to incorporate more styles of fitness into your running routine. You will actually feel better when you run if you focus on building muscle to support your joints. Those who push themselves on a run even when it’s the last thing you want to do, you will not have to run on those days anymore! Find a class, trainer, or online program that teaches new movements and you will see and feel better results from your running efforts.

DON’T give up!  If you love to run and it’s your thing and it works great for you, keep it going! Enjoyment is the key to success and doing what makes you feel the best is all that matters!


Interested in chatting with us? Feel free to message us coach@lifeinmotion-fitness.com. Are you ready to commit to good health, nutrition, and an enhanced lifestyle? Come in for your first complimentary visit or to chat about our group classes and personal training. Reach out to Krista or JP at (978) 766-0485.