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Cardio is Dead; Long Live Cardio

 Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Have you seen recent headlines telling us to “forget cardio exercise as it’s a waste of time” followed by “include cardio in your workout routine nearly every day!”

Queen of Quardio Quymberly Steps Lively!

Mamma mia. What are we to do if we want to get more fit? Are you confuzzled yet? I know I get overwhelmed by the barrage of seemingly conflicting advice.

Just the other day an email arrived in our Fun and Fit inbox entitled: “Newsflash: Cardio is Dead.” As a longtime fitness pro and proponent of aerobic exercise, I was bothered by this announcement in a cranky, “oh, great, now people will exercise even less” kind of way.

Is cardio really “dead?” Or are we going to be soon if we stop doing aerobic exercise and drop even more activity from our lives?  For years we’ve been told to work out aerobically 5-6 days per week. Now we’re told to forego it. What fitness tips should we follow and what is hype we can safely ignore?  How can you know what actions to take (aside from reading our blog and sending us your questions to address)?

What’s Really Being Defined?

One trick is to check definitions and terms before accepting the headline or sound bite. What is really being touted? In this example, the article discussed the difference between long, slow, steady state endurance exercise compared with intervals of high and mid-intensity cardio. The gist of the argument was that long duration, low intensity cardio doesn’t train the heart to build resistance to stress. To reduce the risk of heart disease, we need to alternate intense exertion with active recovery periods.

Long Live Queen of QiDANCE Alexandra

Now we’re getting somewhere. We are really comparing Steady State Cardio to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) relative to stress resistance. Two considerably different types of workouts. The low and slow cardio approach was once crowned queen of all “Fat Burning Zones,” which has been rightly sent to the “Dying Myth Zone.” Certainly a ton of studies and headlines have courted the new ruler, HIIT. (HI)It’s alive!  But is the former type really “dead?” Or as the participants in our group fitness classes say “just tell me what I am supposed to do. Is low intensity cardio out and high intensity now in?”

Which brings me to the second key question we need to pose when faced with bold, exciting, eye catching, sparkly-flashy headlines:

What Are Your Goals?

No Cars, but lots of Cardio here!

Sticking with this example, why do you do cardio workouts in the first place? To lose weight? To reduce menopause symptoms? To complete a marathon? To avoid those darn heart attacks that run in your family? To climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower … and back down… after swimming there from New York and across the English Channel?

Your particular, personal, prioritized goals will guide you through the maze of confusing headlines. Let’s say your top goal is to lose weight for an upcoming trip. Then high intensity cardio might be your best choice and the low, slow cardio needs to retire before you do. But what if a high priority is to stay cognitively aware and sharp as long as possible? Then low intensity cardio is NOT dead and may be what keeps you sharp as you live longer and smarter. For brain boosting, casual cardio rules! Love live cardio! For the pounds-away program, long live the other cardio! Can you see why you have to be willing to spend a little time and attention when faced with the latest and faddiest media bites?

Tempting as it is to believe headlines, the juicy bits are in the details: what’s really being discussed (definition of terms) and who is this news really for (goal dependent)?  Option three is also good:

Ask Fun and Fit/ Kymberly and Alexandra

That’s why we write this blog — to help solve your workout dilemmas and answer your fitness questions. By the way, if you want to really rock out at sorting through information overload flotsam and jetsam, read Understanding Studies from our friend and fellow FitFluential Ambassador, Tamara Grand.

So hail to the queens of cardio (well, yes, I do mean my sister and me, and YOU too!) Play well and work out successfully in the cardio court that is right for you.

Stay lively when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and our blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–> Having you join us makes us happy.


About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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17 Responses to Cardio is Dead; Long Live Cardio

  1. Tamara October 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Love that you tackled this one. A question I get ALL the time! Thanks for the shout out; it looks like we coordinated our posts, doesn’t it?
    Now that would be a fun idea…
    Tamara recently posted..Understanding the results of human health studies: a primerMy Profile

  2. Charity Froggenhall October 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Great article! Thanks for cutting through the BS. I’ve shared this post all over the place!
    Charity Froggenhall recently posted..Cardio is Dead; Long Live Cardio | Fun and Fit: Laugh, Learn, Exercise, Live!My Profile

  3. Jody - Fit at 54 October 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    So many differing opinions on this for sure. Me – I do a mixture of it all! :-)
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Breast Cancer Awareness; PB Recall ExpandedMy Profile

  4. Mindy Artze October 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Everything cycles around… I wish people would just realize that they need a healthy all around workout :) Cardio and some weights… Why choose :)
    Mindy Artze recently posted..Pretty Muddy Run… who’s coming with me and My October Goal!My Profile

  5. Kareen October 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Great post! The barage of confusion is constant in the race to get the catchy title.
    Kareen recently posted..The Eating Social DietMy Profile

    • Fun and Fit October 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      You have put the secret to the media in one sentence, Kareen! I actually used to work with people whose job was to create catchy newspaper headlines. That’s it – not write the article – just do the headlines.
      Fun and Fit recently posted..Back Stretches: Wrong and Right Way TipsMy Profile

  6. Abby @ BackAtSquareZero October 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Love this. Seems like in every field people change there opinions all the time when truth always has been and always will be balance. (I know this yet I prefer just cardio. Whoops!)
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Breaking PointMy Profile

  7. John Poole October 7, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    All I can say is, someone check that sprinkler above Alexandra in the second photo. It ought to be going off, because Alexandra is SO HAWT! :-D

  8. Calla Gold October 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    I really love how you break this stuff down for us. There really does seem to be a new opinion every other day, but thank you for setting us straight. At the end of the day, it comes down to balance and personal needs and goals.

  9. Anna Callie October 24, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Cardio has been recommended for as long as I can remember, I never understood the confusion. Makes me crazy. I always do cardio and weights. It’s the only way to go…along with a good nutrition plan.


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