Kick It Up With Cardio Exercise

Make sure you have a cardio exercise plan that will give you the most bang for your muscle burn

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Whether it's pounding the pavement, logging miles on the bike, or climbing those stairs that seem to go nowhere, it's all about cardio exercise. But other than a sweaty t-shirt, what do you have to show for your workout? A slimmer stomach? Killer quads? Are you exercising for the right amount of time to reap the full health benefits of cardiovascular fitness, or often enough?

Exercise experts, including fitness maven Denise Austin, answer cardio questions for WebMD, so you can make the most of your muscle burn.

Cardio Exercise: The Heart of the Matter

"Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs," says Tommy Boone, PhD, a founding member of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. "Walking, jogging, and running are common forms of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise."

From running and walking, to swimming, elliptical cross-training, biking, Stairmaster, and rowing -- to name a few -- the physical benefits of cardio exercise abound, explains says Len Kravitz, PhD, senior exercise physiologist for IDEA Health and Fitness Association. They include:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Improved heart function
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Improved muscle mass