What is Cardio?

Cardio. It has long been considered the gold standard of fitness. If you didn’t have it or you weren’t doing it, you weren’t taken serious in the world of fitness. The funny thing about it though is that the people who have been screaming from the mountain tops of its importance have been misinterpreting the word forever. 

Cardio is short for cardiology. The study of the heart. The origin of its importance goes back to the fat “scare” of the 1960s. Heart disease was becoming something of an epidemic and the famous, though corrupt, Dr. Ancel Keys was the foremost expert on what was causing these problems. He, hypothesized no less, that saturated fat was clogging arteries and the cholesterol associated with the saturated fat was causing heart attacks. This is the cliff notes version of his whole, biased study. 

The health and fitness community ran with it though, literally. Fat, and most notably saturated fat, was demonized and running long, slow distances became all the rage. People were certain that running and biking were the key to keeping your heart in tip top shape. But, again, lets take a look at the basis of the word. Cardiology, the study of the heart. This means any and all things that happen to the heart during stress. 

Well, let’s create a scenario here. Suppose an elderly woman goes to see her doctor and he has her stand up out of her chair, sit on the exam room table and takes a measure of her pulse. Her pulse is something ridiculous like 125 beats per minute. Now, the doctor is going to prescribe her medication and tell her she should probably go on walks more regularly. But, let’s really look at the problem. What caused her heart rate to jump up so high? What did she do? She simply stood up out of her chair. Isn’t that really a simple air squat? So, what is her body telling us? What happens to your heart rate when you do a 1 rep max back squat? Doesn’t it go up? Well, what if for this elderly woman, standing up out of a chair IS a 1 rep max back squat? What if her leg strength is SO non-existent that standing up out of a chair is like the equivalent of a healthy human being squatting 2 times their body weight? Now, I ask you, does she really need to be walking more? 

Cardio is ANYTHING that causes the heart rate to rise. Weightlifting IS cardio. Push-ups ARE cardio. Pull-ups, lunges, dips, squats and of course running. If you do a set of enough reps of any of these movements and you’re out of breath, you have just done some cardio. 

It’s no secret that mainstream media and doctors around the world have led us into utter chaos in terms of our society’s health. People have continually gotten fatter and sicker over the last 60 years. If we’ve all REALLY been doing cardio, why have we gotten so sick and fat? The answer is because we haven’t been doing it. The two camps that more people have subscribed to, distance running and body building, over the last 60 years have ONE similarity between them. There is NO heavy breathing. 

Jobim Zapico