Cardio is good for you; we hear it all the time. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs, it’s good for your bones, and it’s good for your overall well-being. But why is it good for you, physiologically?
I spoke with Dr. Chitra Peddada, medical director of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at Penrose Hospital, about the cardiovascular aspects of outdoor recreation. According to Peddada, exercising is more than getting your heart rate up and sweating; it’s about what happens when you get your heart rate up.
Research shows a marked decrease in the rate of breast cancer in women who exercise regularly. Even just three hours of cardio a week is believed to reduce cancer risk by 30 to 40 percent! The Vitamin D you pick up outdoors combined with cardio has also been shown to reduce risk of colon cancer.
REDUCE DIABETES RISK
Weight loss, a by-product of exercise, decreases the risk of diabetes. Cardio activities boost your metabolism, and keep blood glucose levels in check. Peddada says as little as a three-pound weight loss will result in an “exponential” increase in diabetic metabolisms.
Increased circulation, caused by a rise in blood pressure and pulse rate while you’re huffing and puffing along a trail, contributes to lower LDL (bad cholesterol), increases the levels of HDL (good cholesterol), and lower triglyceride levels. Increased blood flow also helps with joint health and recovery from joint injury. Doing your cardio outside also helps to reduce risk of heart attack and lowers blood pressure as well due to the Vitamin D gains.
And the benefits continue. A recent study by the Cooper Clinic in Dallas determined that even moderate exercise can dramatically reduce cardiac mortality when compared to a sedentary lifestyle. Simply put, you don’t have to over do it or train like a triathlete to improve your health.
I know that I’m likely preaching to the choir — many of you reading this are already hikers or cyclists, or engage in other outdoor activities. But you also probably know someone who you’ve been trying to get involved in some outdoor exercise. Share the benefits with them, and maybe save their life.