Is Chronic Cardio a Waste of Your Time?

October 2018
By Fitness expert Stephanie Weiss

1. The subject of “chronic cardio”

Are you one to hit the treadmill tirelessly, spending countless hours mindlessly running? Easily, one can get addicted to a cardio routine, but what’s so bad about that? Well, the mind is a powerful thing. Beginning small with the goal in mind to “get fit”, this routine can easily escalate to an unhealthy addiction and become detrimental to the mind and tough on body. Over the years, it has been argued whether or not constant cardio is effective in reaching results or if it is simply a big waste of time.

The subject of “chronic cardio” has progressively become a widespread concern for individuals. However, people continually want to push their stamina level as well as their endurance to the next level forcing the body to utilize the oxygen that comes from the circulating blood through the activity being performed. Nowadays, people tend to over exert themselves pushing their body to endure aerobic training rather than anaerobic system training.

Chronic Cadio

What are examples of cardio? Cycling, long distance running, swimming, etc. which can all have a big impact on the human heart. Typically, exercise is good for the heart, especially cardiovascular exercises. Experts in the industry explain that chronic cardio forces your heart to push itself for an over extended period of time on a regular, constant basis. The more often this is done, the more health complications will arise. When working any muscle of the body, particularly targeted muscles, these muscles become enlarged and get tired quickly making it quick to realize you probably need to come to a stopping point. However, when it comes to constant cardio, the heart will not give your body this fatigued warning sign even though it is also becoming expanded and seriously fatigued. Eventually this could possibly lead to an irregular heartbeat, perhaps one at an extremely quick pace. This is known as Atrial Fibrillation. The heart is another powerful organ of the body. It responds quickly and quietly to a multitude of triggers sent by various functionalities the body performs.

2. Benefits of Chronic Cardio

In order to reach the body’s full potential and yield the greatest outcome, chronic cardio or training for endurance must be controlled and possibly changed to performing an exercise with effort that is less sustained. A beneficial alternative for those who enjoy cardio training is interval training, or HIIT (high intensity interval training). It is quick and done in short bursts of starts and fits. Fitness professionals of all backgrounds find this particular cardio workout effective. This balance involves both aerobic and anaerobic exercises giving not only the muscles but the heart the chance to rest appropriately. A mix of such running and weightlifting creates shock within the body creating a better outcome overall. Your muscles are actively working and they are also actively resting, not only in between sets, but hours after as well. Other alternatives may be doing cardio in quick bursts, picking up Pilates or yoga to give your body a break and a good positive change that is not strenuous on the body.

Another reason chronic cardio is not beneficial for your body in the long run is because it tends to plunge your hormones into problems, specifically affecting cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone.” This particular hormone can eventually cause or lead to weight gain and can ultimately sabotage your overall health. When an individual works out, the body automatically creates high cortisol levels, and when too much cortisol is produced, this signals the brain to store more fat. Thus, this continues to inhibit the body further. Because the brain was signaled to store fat, this then makes it difficult if not impossible to actually process sugar in the body which leads to weight gain because the body is unable to process it.  

As a result of continuous cardio and the long term effects of the performance, a study from stated, “A routine of regular exercise is highly effective for prevention and treatment of many common chronic diseases and improves cardiovascular health and longevity, however, long term excessive endurance exercise may induce pathological structural remodeling of the heart and large arteries. Emerging data suggest that chronic training can cause transient acute volume overload of the atria and right ventricle, with transient reductions in right ventricular ejection fraction and elevations of cardiac bio-markers…”

3. The conclusion

Ultimately, when an individual performs an excessive amount of cardio, the risk of disease tends to increase significantly. Cardio that is long-term compared to cardio that is short term impacts the health creating negative outcomes in the future. Although there are positive aspects to doing cardio such as minimizing heart disease, assisting in losing fat and increasing longevity, cardio uses fat as an energy source resulting in an outcome that is non beneficial to our overall health. The good fat in our body is important, however, our bodies become accustomed to utilizing fat as an energy source and becomes even more and more efficient doing that (while burning muscle at the same time.) When our bodies become more efficient with this process, it actually means we are burning less fat rather than more of it. Our bodies tend to hold onto the fat the more efficient we get. This in turn makes the brain trick our bodies into thinking it needs to perform cardio for longer periods of time. As a result, this snowball effect maximizes the process of burning even lesser amounts of fat over time, diminishing overall sex-drive, positive body function, and lifestyle.

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Tim McComsey

Tim McComsey is the founding owner of TRYM Fitness: Dallas’s Premier Personal Training and Nutrition Company, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Registered Dietitian. He started TRYM Fitness in 2011 and has been growing successfully ever since! This is his 15th year in the fitness industry and his scope of work has broadened from being ambassador to Sunwarrior, a partner to Vitamin World, and a sponsored athlete to 361usa shoes and apparel. He also contributes to Men’s Fitness Magazine and Human Fit Project with video and content production. Through his years in the industry, he has placed 1st in several fitness competitions including the 2013 Dallas Europa Men’s Physique. His passion is to empower both men and women to be the healthiest and most fit they can be using various platforms.

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