First of all, lets discuss what is cardio? Cardio is any type of aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, cycling, etc.
If you are an avid weight lifter, you’ve probably been told at some point that if you do cardio you will lose all your gains. Or that cardio is only for people who want to lose weight.
Both of those statements are not exactly correct. Doing cardio alone won’t help with major weight loss and adding cardio into your workout routine is definitely not going to decease muscle mass or size.
In fact, adding even one day of cardio to your weight lifting session can be a huge benefit to your health.
The body tends to run off of the aerobic energy system. This means that your body uses aerobic energy to do things such as digest food, regulate cellular activity, help your lungs absorb energy and transfer hemoglobin to your tissues.
In simple terms, the body NEEDS to aerobic energy to function. When you are resting or sleeping, your body is running off of its aerobic energy.
Exercise, in particular aerobic exercise has been shown to increase lifespan by up to 6 years, while simply lifting weights showed a slightly slower increase in lifespan, by approximately 3 years.
Pennsylvania State University conducted a study on the impact of exercise and the immune system. They studied sedentary individuals, a group that did intense exercises- non cardio, and a group that ran on a treadmill. The results showed that those who did aerobic exercise saw an increase in immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that strengthen the immune system.
And of course, overall cardiovascular health improved, which means that one’s risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure drops.
Lastly, a 2016 study conducted by PLOS ONE Science journal found that individuals who lift weights AND do cardio saw an INCREASE in muscle mass.
So there you have it. Add a little cardio into your routine and it’ll do your body wonders.
Karacabey, K. (2005). The effects of exercise on the immune system and stress hormones in sportswomen.http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.567.3215&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Kokkinos P. (2012). Physical activity, health benefits, and mortality risk. ISRN cardiology, 2012, 718789. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/718789
Bumgardner, W (2019) Anaerobic Metabolism vs Aerobic Metabolism. https://www.verywellfit.com/anaerobic-metabolism-3432629
Kazior Z, Willis SJ, Moberg M, Apró W, Calbet JAL, Holmberg H-C, et al. (2016) Endurance Exercise Enhances the Effect of Strength Training on Muscle Fiber Size and Protein Expression of Akt and mTOR. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0149082. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149082