Cardio exercises are also known as cardiovascular exercises or aerobic exercises. Aerobic literally means “with oxygen” since oxygen is used within the muscles for generating energy. Such an exercise is usually performed at moderate intensity levels for extended periods of time and maintains an increased heart rate.
Cardiovascular exercises such as running essentially involve large muscles across legs and upper body, and you are working on your heart and lung!
Cardio could cause excessive pressure, wear and tear around the knee, ankle joints and even the lower back region of the spine. This is more pronounced for a person who is overweight and has lesser muscle mass. Further, excessive cardio without proper nutrition planning could deplete muscles from the body. Hence, excessive cardio is not recommended for an overweight person with lesser muscle mass as it can even cause disc prolapse and back pain.
1 hour of steady-state cardio can burn roughly 250 – 300 calories, whereas 1 hour of resistance training (eg – gym) may burn only 200 calories during that time of exercise (depending on the intensity of workouts, of course!). However, our body will continue to burn more calories even after stopping exercise in the case of resistance training. This is a phenomenon called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) or ‘Afterburn’. Because of EPOC, the net calories burned in 24 hours by resistance training is more than that of cardio
Further resistance training also helps in building lean mass or muscles. Higher the muscles, the better is the ability of our body to burn more fat.
In a nutshell – cardio is important for a healthy heart and a healthy lung and it also helps in weight loss. However, it may cause injuries if the person is over weight. Combining cardio with the right amount of resistance training can give better results and long term benefits