Are you doing too much cardio?
By Brianna McCabe
A 30-minute jog a day will keep the doctor away. That’s how the saying goes, right? Well, not exactly – but it most certainly does help to improve your overall health and well-being.
As explained by Aristotelis E. Vlahos, M.D., a board certified cardiologist at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, “Individuals should strive to engage in some kind of physical activity that is going to produce a sustained increase in heart rate. You want to ‘huff and puff’ a little bit.”
This doesn’t mean that you have to sprint to the point where a person is gasping for air, shares Dr. Vlahos, but it also doesn’t mean that a brief stroll around the mall is adequate, either. Instead, a person needs to take into consideration who they are in terms of age, joint and muscle composition, and overall limitations, and then determine how to go about challenging his or her heart rate and respiration in a repetitive and rhythmic way. A true cardio workout can be accomplished by swimming, walking, jogging, biking, and jumping rope.
When done properly, cardio workouts can lead to improvements in blood pressure, metabolism, overall energy, body fat, and heart and lung strength while simultaneously reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and the risk of heart disease.
“Unfortunately the field of medicine has not yet figured out how to change genetics or make people younger,” jokes Dr. Vlahos. “But with a little bit of a cardio workout, you can transform your body and health. You will see great effects with just a little exercise.”
Dr. Vlahos encourages people to pursue a cardiovascular workout for at least 3-6 hours a week, or 30-60 minutes a day. “You don’t have to be an Olympian or a gym rat,” he adds. “The key is in regularity. Be honest with your abilities and don’t start off running a marathon if your body isn’t ready.”
When done improperly, though, cardio can have negative effects on a person’s health. Individuals can cause injuries from repetitive use such as chronically sore joints, knee injuries, and shin splints. Additionally, Dr. Vlahos warns that there can be some trouble from a cardiac standpoint, especially if a person has had issues in the past. “If that is the case, make sure you are medically evaluated by a professional to ensure that you are stable enough to workout with guidelines,” recommends Dr. Vlahos.
It’s also important to not push your body too much and overload your body with cardio. “Once you get past 10-12 hours of vigorous training, you’re not doing your body any favors,” says Dr. Vlahos. Otherwise, an individual can become chronically fatigued, injured, and dehydrated and potentially increase the risk of exercise-induced arrhythmias if a cardio workout is too excessive.
“If you’re not hurting or overtiring yourself, keep at it!” urges Dr. Vlahos. “Get rest, drink water, and get the proper pre- and post-nutrition, and your body will thank you.”
Dr. Vlahos is located at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group – Cardiology in Tinton Falls (21 Gilbert Street North). If you are looking to schedule an appointment or learn more about his practice, click here or call 732-741-7400.