Take Heart! Why You Should Love Cardio

Your heart, pumping to the beat every day, works hard on your behalf. Reciprocate that loving feeling by stepping up your cardio fitness routine.

The American Heart Association recommends incorporating at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, or roughly 30 minutes a day, five days per week. It’s OK to slice and dice those numbers even further. If you have 10 minutes to choose the steps over the elevator, that’s a start! You may want to consult your physician before diving into a new fitness regimen.

“Training your heart through regular cardio is an important part of living a long and healthy life,” said Optum personal trainer Ryan Wittig. “We want our heart to pump in tandem with our lungs; it provides energy to our body while transporting nutrients to our tissues and clean oxygen to our cells. Cardio exercise helps keep our body clean and that’s essentially what you’re doing during exercise, you’re increasing your heart rate for a set period of time to train the muscle and expel toxins and waste.”

Ready for some cardio inspiration? This video offers ways to help maximize your workout time in or out of the gym:


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Ryan offered two top tips to consider to help solidify exercise as a lifelong, heart-healthy habit:

  • Find Your ‘Why’: Identify your motivational triggers. “It’s critical to reflect personally on why working out is important,” Ryan said. “If an individual is at the gym because a doctor told them to exercise, chances are they won’t stay with it. But, if you’re a newly minted grandparent and you want to see your grandchild grow while nurturing a bond with this special human, that’s a powerful why factor. Identify that insight and you’ll help fuel your exercise routine.”
  • Hey, Bud! Doubling up with a trusted pal also works. “Meeting someone regularly at the gym, whether that’s a friend, family member, neighbor or personal trainer is important. They’ll hold us accountable, and in return we’ll do the same for them,” Ryan said. “Having a network of support goes a long way to instilling long-term exercise habits and achieving our goals.”

As you identify the cardio cadence that works for you, remember that gym membership dues may be partially reimbursable through your health plan.