The Cardio Myth
The Cardio Myth:
How engaging in intense cardiovascular workouts
causes you to gain even more weight…
and deteriorates your health!
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 68.8% of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Yet, Americans have spent an estimated $2.7 billion on weight loss services, a statistic that indicates we haven’t turned a blind eye to gluttony. We understand the ramifications of weight gain and are doing our best to shed unwanted pounds and keep our weight within a healthy range. Why then does the percentage of overweight Americans keep rising even though more and more people are jumping on the weight loss wagon?
Are you under the mistaken belief that in order to lose weight you need to do 30-minutes of high-intensity cardio 3 to 5 times per week? Perhaps you have been unsuccessful at implementing a consistent workout routine because such demands are either physically unrealistic or too time-consuming. Or maybe you are a cardio junkie who runs on the treadmill for 45-minutes a day but still has excess pounds, flabby abs and a less than optimal immune system.
You, and millions like you, have been duped; intense cardio activity is not only unnecessary, but also thwarts your weight loss goals and compromises your health and wellness.
What Counts as Cardio?
Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise is defined as any sustained, vigorous activity that increases your heart rate to 60-85% of your heart’s maximum capacity. Cardiovascular activities are not short bursts of endurance, but repetitive exercises that last 20 minutes or more. Cardio exercise is a type of activity that our bodies are, to speak frankly, NOT designed to perform. Not only that, cardio actually ends up packing on the pounds rather than promoting a fit, leaner you.
When you are working at 65% or more of your heart rate’s maximum your body responds by storing as much fat as possible. Your body stops using energy from your fat cells (in other words it stops burning fat) by as much as 30%!
How Your Body Uses Energy
Our bodies utilize two main energy systems. The first produces ATP by burning fats slowly. ATP is “nature’s energizer,” without which our cells and organs wouldn’t be able to function. This energy system burns fats during resting periods and at low levels of aerobic activity.
The second energy system is known as the ATP-PC system. It kicks in when we need short and intense bursts of energy. ATP provides the energy and PC (phosphocreatine) restores this lost energy. Unfortunately, our muscles only store about 10 to 20 seconds of this fuel. Our bodies just weren’t made to undergo strenuous cardio activity for extended periods of time.
To compensate, our bodies depend on fuel from carbohydrates, an arrangement that has disastrous health consequences over the long-term. High intensity cardio exercise burns through huge amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) and can lead to elevated insulin levels, 10 times more free radical damage, and an increase in the stress hormone cortisol.
The Dangers of Cortisol
Cortisol kicks in during the “fight or flight” response to help the body maintain homeostasis during a crisis. However, too much cortisol for an extended time increases your risk for infection, injury, decreased bone density and lean muscle, and actually tells the body to store, instead of burn fat!
Cortisol Contributes to Muscle Loss
There’s the obvious: overtraining with high intensity cardio stresses your muscles and makes you vulnerable to pulls, tears and damage to ligaments and tendons. But there’s the little known fact that sustained and heightened cortisol levels also decrease muscle mass and bone density as your body struggles to keep up with the overwhelming amount of energy being burned.
Cortisol and Inflammation
Our bodies have evolved to store fat during times of crisis. Too high cortisol levels encourage your body to accumulate fat… to store it for your next cardio workout. As the fat gathers, chronic inflammation settles in. Inflammation, otherwise known as the “secret killer,” has been proven to contribute to fat gain, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and even cancer.
A recent study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sustained and elevated cortisol levels in cardio endurance athletes harmed their physical and mental health. This is in part due to the fact that chronic inflammation makes cells more susceptible to free radical damage and increased insulin levels.
Cardio and Heart Disease
Many recent studies have linked cardio exercise to heart failure. The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 reported that too much intense cardio increases your risk of a cardiac event 7-fold. An animal study published in Hypertension found that intense cardiovascular activity exacerbated the rats’ high blood pressure and increased their risk for heart failure.
Another study made up of 40 elite long-term endurance athletes documented the stress intense cardio activity has on the heart. Researchers found that athletes’ right ventricular function had declined and blood levels of cardiac enzymes (makers of heart injury) had increased. MRI scans indicated that 12% of the athletes also had scar tissue on their heart muscles one week after a race.
Cardio and Thyroid Disorders
Too much vigorous exercise also shuts down your body’s production of the thyroid hormone T3, which is responsible for proper muscle function and burning energy. When T3 levels are low, as is the case during and after intense cardio workouts, your body starts to compensate by storing fat, regardless of how many calories you are burning! Keep doing 45 minutes plus of cardio and your body will “thank you” by slowing your metabolism in order to conserve energy. Cardio activity unleashes a whole slew of reactions that tempt your body to hold onto fat.
Fortunately, you no longer have to fall prey to the cardio myth. The NEW discovery is within your grasp. There is a safe, effective and easy way to restore your body’s natural metabolism and burn fat and for your heart instead of endurance exercise. You won’t ever have to do cardio again!