A Cardio exercise is any exercise that raises your heart rate. Let's face it, our bodies were designed to move. There is enough buzz about building muscles, but cardio is yet to get the same love. Cardio is one of the fundamental components of exercise and should never be ignored.
No matter what your goals are, even if your only goal is to be huge, you still need to do some form of aerobic exercise. Besides just burning calories Cardio, aka aerobic training, makes your heart strong increases your lung capacity, reduces the risk of a heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. The bottom line is your fitness routine is incomplete without cardio.
Now that we've established that cardio is a must, when is the best time to do it? If your goal is to improve cardiovascular endurance, then cardio comes first. But if your goal is to increase strength or muscle mass then push cardio to the end of your workout.
A good cardio session is going to seriously deplete your muscle stamina. Lifting weights require muscle strength, so you want to do that first in your weight training session followed by cardio training. You can do an hour of weight training, followed by 20 minutes of cardio, with relatively strong energy levels. But the other way around, i.e. doing cardio first, will deplete your muscle energy which will impact your lifts negatively. Of course, there may be times when you want to switch things up but generally, you should do cardio after your weight training session.
How should you start?
Before starting any new exercise program, it is important to know that you do not have any underlying health conditions that would prevent you from training. Be sure to check with a health care professional to determine your health condition prior to starting any exercise program.
Once you have determined your physical condition the next step is to make a mental note. Start small and slowly increase the time and intensity of your training. Walking & swimming are some of these best ways to get started. But even little things count - mowing a lawn for example. The goal is to slowly increase your cardio exercise regimen day over day or week by week. And before you know it you will start to feel your overall cardio health improve.