Cardio Benefits: 80+ Benefits of Cardio for your Health

Posted on 21 May, 2021 by Nicholas Rizzo

In our investigation to the health benefits of exercise, we spent 72 hours analyzing over 300 studies specific to how cardio improves your health.

The 80+ benefits of cardio statistics that we produced through research were analyzed and broken down into the following sections:

Heart health

About 655,000 Americans die from some form of cardiovascular disease each year. Yes, that number is pretty alarming, but you can do your part to lower the risk by increasing your level of aerobic exercise. Whether you start by enjoying the benefits of walking or any other form of cardio exercise like cycling, rowing, or HIIT, what's important is that you start.

Experts suggest doing a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio to improve one’s health. Regular cardio also gives you the following benefits:

  • Moderate and mostly active individuals reduced the incidence of cardiovascular diseases by 48-59%, while those who are highly active increased those numbers to 54-63%.
  • All-cause mortality is reduced by 33% if you do cardio at least 50 minutes per week.
  • 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio workout could reduce fatality related to cardiovascular diseases by 24%.
  • 10 minutes of moderate to intense cardio exercise a day decreases the risk of death due to CVD by 38%
  • You can lower the risk of death due to CVD by 70% with 30 minutes of intense or moderate cardio workouts per day.
  • Regular cardio can prevent the development of high blood pressure by 17%.
  • A decrease of 11.2-17.3% in triglycerides was noted in men and women who did intense cardio exercises for about a year.
  • A year-long study showed that LDL or bad cholesterol can be reduced by 3.6-4.5% in people who do intense cardio.
  • The good cholesterol, HDL, increased by 5.8-8.6% in individuals who did high-intensity cardio workouts.

When comparing the benefits of biking, walking, running, and other various forms of cardio for 4 weeks or more, studies showed:

  • Decrease the risk of suffering from coronary heart disease by 11-18%
  • Prevent myocardial infarction by 3.5-27%.
  • Improve your chances against stroke by 53%.
  • All-cause mortality is lowered by 17-59%
  • Add 2.2-5.3 years to your life expectancy

Physical fitness

Although cardio can lead to a loss of muscle, this is typically only when you are “overdoing” it or doing it in a serious caloric deficit. Otherwise, cardio workouts can help improve muscle function and strength. For example, forms of cardio like HIIT, jumping rope, and rowing machine benefits:

  • Leg muscle strength by 2.8-280%
  • Vertical jump by 19.4-49%
  • Running speed by 3.3%
  • Walking endurance by 77%

Outside of how cardio impacts your muscle, speed, and strength, it also has been shown to improve your physical fitness through increases in:

  • Blood flow throughout the body and the delivery of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to your muscles
  • VO2 max by 10-20.6% after just 6 weeks of training 
  • Vital lung capacity, or how much air your lung can hold, by 18.8% 
  • The muscles of the lungs improved by 43%.

Hormones 

Hormones are chemicals secreted by various glands in the body that triggers the action of organs. Depending on the hormone, cardiovascular exercises can either increase or decrease its production for optimal body function.

  • Leptin, the appetite-regulating hormone, is decreased by 35.4% in people who exercise regularly. 
  • High levels of leptin are associated with obesity while low levels help you discern when you are full sooner, helping you prevent overeating and control your diet.
  • Insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, is reduced by 32.6% in individuals who do cardio workouts regularly because the body is more sensitive to spikes in blood sugar and is better equiped to regulate them.
  • The human growth hormone (HGH), which is responsible for keeping your bones and muscles healthy, increases by 450% in people who do intense cardio exercise sessions.
  • Meanwhile, estradiol, a hormone linked to depression, is lowered by 50.3% in people who do high-intensity cardio several times a week.

Weight loss

Aerobic exercise helps burn calories that are readily available as well as fat stores, making it a great option for people who may want to shed some extra pounds.

Regular cardio workouts for 4 weeks and beyond can result in:

  • The reduction of body mass index (BMI) by 0.71-5.7%
  • Lower body fat by 1.26-88%
  • Shrinkage of abdominal visceral fat by 19.5%.
  • The loss of 1.38-5.7 kg of weight.
  • The waist circumference minimizing by 2.5-7.4%
  • The prevention of obesity by as much as 24%.

To add to that, another reason to consider cardio, especially high-intensity cardio, is that it can result in burning 130-190 calories more for up to 24 hours after you exercise.

Furthermore, for a 155-lb person, 30 minutes of:

  • Low-impact cardio burns 198 calories.
  • High-impact cardio burns 252 calories.
  • Moderate intensity stationary cycling burns 252 calories.
  • Vigorous-intensity stationary cycling burns 278 calories.
  • Moderate intensity stationary rowing burns 252 calories.
  • Vigorous-intensity stationary rowing burns 369 calories.
  • Walking at a moderate pace burns 175 calories.
  • Running at a moderate pace burns 360 calories.
  • High-intensity interval training burns 450 calories.
  • Jumping rope burns 300 calories.

Diabetes

Today, about 422 million people around the globe are afflicted with diabetes. This disease also causes the death of 1.6 million every year. To fight diabetes, one of your best weapons is to increase physical activity to help regulate insulin production and glucose absorption.

Studies have shown that cardio exercise 3-5 times a week, for at least 30 minutes, improves insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, it can:

  • Reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 40%.
  • Decrease blood sugar levels by 4.3-11.3%.
  • Increase absorption of glucose by 20-26%.
  • Lower the HbA1C or average blood glucose reading of those with type 2 diabetes by 0.6-3.9%.
  • Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) is reduced by 33.6% 
  • Lower habitual insulin dosage by 15%.
  • Increase adiponectin, a protein hormone that regulates glucose and fatty acid, by 10%.

Mental and emotional health

Decades of studies have shown that people who exercise even just a few times a week are generally happier and have a more positive perspective in life. Happy people are also more likely to keep on exercising, which leads to better overall health.

Cardiovascular exercises 3 or more times a week can:

  • Lower depression by 20-36.8%.
  • Ease mental load burden by 21.6%.
  • Decrease anxiety levels by 14.6%
  • Significantly reduce overall stress levels.

Brain health

Like any part of the body, the brain also benefits when a person increases their physical activity. 

  • Exercise prevents the shrinking of the hippocampus, the region of the brain that is responsible for retaining and recalling information. Brain shrinkage has also been linked to increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which is reduced by 25-53% with regular exercise.
  • Cardio workouts have also been associated with a significant increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level which promotes better communication between the brain and the body.

Doing cardio exercises at least 3 days per week can lead to significant improvements in brain health, function, and performance, with study participants showing improvements in:

  • Focus (45.9%)
  • Productivity (7.2%)
  • Motivation (4.9%)
  • Workplace well-being (2.2%)
  • Overall satisfaction (20%)
  • Motor coordination (3-19%)
  • Balance (23.9%)
  • Agility (8.9%)
  • Concentration (45%)
  • Reaction time (12.4-24.2%)
  • Creativity (81%)
  • Convergent thinking (23%)

Bone health

Over 200 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. If you don’t fancy having brittle bones in your future, then one the benefits of jumping rope and other high-impact cardio to your routine may interest you.

Doing load bearing cardio exercises like HIIT and jump ropes for more than 4 weeks improve:

  • Bone mass density (6-18.9%)
  • Heel bone density (5.8%)
  • Lumbar spine density (2.9%)
  • Bone mineral component (4.2%)
  • Lumbar and femoral neck strength (6.8%)
  • Reduce the risk of encountering hip fractures (62%)

Joint health

Regular cardio exercises help lubricate our joints and can help prevent or reduce pain, stiffness, and other joint issues.

Cardio training 4 weeks and beyond can:

  • Decrease the progression of rheumatoid arthritis by 38%.
  • Reduce joint swelling by 55.8%.
  • Pain level subside by 29.3-86.3%
  • Increase the range of motion by 15-109.3%.

FAQs

When should you do cardio?

In general, working out any time of the day is good for your health. But one of the benefits of cardio in the morning is that you are less likely to have trouble sleeping come nighttime compared to late afternoon workouts.

However, there are also studies that working out in the afternoon, between 2-6 pm is the best time. This is because your body is said to be at the peak of its function during this time, which means you get more benefits when you do cardio during this time.

Studies have conflicting findings as to when is the optimal time for cardio, but the important takeaway here is that regardless of the time, cardio is important. Just find the right time that suits you.

How much cardio do you need to lose weight?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you need a total of 75 to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Which translates to 25 to 50 minutes a day, 3 days a week. On the other hand, if you prefer high-intensity interval training, you can cut your workout time by half and still get the same health benefits. HIIT is preferred by those with very busy schedules.

Which cardio burns the most fat?

High-intensity interval training is one of the best forms of cardio for burning fat. The unique benefits of HIIT come from the combination of the high level of intensity of the exercise and interval training. With that said, our previous study showed that specifically sprint interval training burned more fat, in less time spent exercising than traditional HIIT. 

What are the benefits of doing cardio 3 times a week?

Some of the effects of cardio 3 times a week, whether high or moderate intensity, include improved cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, fat loss, weight loss, and muscle toning to name a few.

What happens if you do 30 minutes of cardio a day?

According to various studies, 30 minutes of cardio a day can improve: heart health, sleep, bone mass density, as well as lift your mood, reduce anxiety, and even increase your libido.

Conclusion

Cardio workouts are good for anyone, regardless of their fitness level, age, gender, or even if they are differently-abled. Most cardio exercises are inexpensive as they mostly rely on your body weight and all you need is a good pair of shoes.

Cardio not only helps in improving the overall function of your systems, but also helps you lose weight, and if done right, can aid in muscle toning.

So if you want to live longer, avoid certain lifestyle diseases, get yourself up from that couch and take the first step to improve your physical health and mental well-being.

About RunRepeat

RunRepeat serves as the Wikipedia of athletic and lifestyle shoes. Here at RunRepeat, we have done the hard work for you, so you can get the information you need at a glance. Plus, you can find user and expert reviews so you’ll know if a pair of training shoes is right for your needs.

Cardio exercises come in many forms like rowing, HIIT, jumping rope, walking, running, and more. So which pair of athletic shoes should you wear? If you’re more of a jogger or runner, a good pair of running shoes would suit you. If you dabble with various fitness regimens, training shoes would be more appropriate. These CrossFit trainers and HIIT shoes provide support on the top part of your feet and cushioning and responsiveness under.

Use of content

  • If the Benefits of Cardio piqued your interest and you want to know more, you can reach out to Nick Rizzo at nick@runrepeat.com. He’d be happy to answer any queries. He’s also available for interviews.
  • Data from this analysis is free to use for any online publication. We only request that you link back to this original source.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm#:~:text=Heart%20Disease%20in%20the%20United%20States&text=One%20person%20dies%20every%2036,1%20in%20every%204%20deaths. 

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/theres-no-limit-to-the-cardiovascular-benefits-of-exercise#How-to-exercise

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003487 

https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=31 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180125110030.htm 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901083/ 

https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-511X-2-3 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18580415/

https://www.fitbod.me/blog/can-cardio-burn-muscle 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2015/03000/Caloric_Expenditure_of_Aerobic,_Resistance,_or.28.aspx 

https://www.healthline.com/health/jumping-rope-to-lose-weight 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569266/ 

https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1 

https://www.quotes.net/mquote/53592

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-018-9976-0

https://medium.com/luminate/can-exercise-make-you-happy-or-does-happiness-help-you-exercise-ef3d47ab1bbc

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5335887/#:~:text=Currently%2C%20it%20has%20been%20estimated,osteoporotic%20fractures%20in%20their%20lifetime.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270305/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23340006/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21029194/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544497/

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https://www.thelist.com/209937/when-you-do-30-minutes-of-cardio-every-day-this-is-what-happens-to-your-body/   

Author
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo

Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.