Cardio, or cardiovascular training, refers to endurance sports. The term cardiovascular is derived from the Greek word "kardio," which means heart, and the Latin word "vas," which means vessel. Endurance training has a positive effect on your cardiovascular system.
Furthermore, cardio offers other positive effects. By increasing the volume of your lungs, it allows your body to better supply itself with oxygen. In addition, your blood circulation is improved. This, in turn, lowers your blood pressure. Thus, you can reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
In general, cardio can prevent diseases, since the training strengthens your immune system. If you do cardio regularly, your body will produce more antibodies and thus provide a better defense mechanism. In short, your health will be improved immensely.
Due to so-called happiness hormones, which are released after sports activities, endurance training also reduces stress. In addition, it also improves your brain power, which leads to an increased ability to concentrate. Your sleep or sleep quality is also positively affected by cardiovascular training.
Examples of cardio training are swimming, jogging, and cycling. You can also do cardio at the gym on an elliptical, a rowing machine, a stairmaster, or on many other machines.
However, if your goal is to have a muscular and defined body, you should perform cardio wisely. Too much cardio will not be beneficial and, in the worst-case scenario, will cost you your hard-earned muscles.
Doing a lot of cardio before weight training is not recommended because your energy stores will be emptied before the strenuous weight training. You might then not be able to progress during strength training, or your performance might even deteriorate.
However, a 5-10 minute cardio session on a cardio machine of your choice is useful before weight training to warm up your muscles. After your strength training, you can do cardio if necessary. However, cardio and strength training should ideally be performed at separate times.