The Skinny On Cardio: Why It’s Important?

The Skinny On Cardio: Why It’s Important?

The first thing that normally pops into one’s head when you think of weight loss is ‘diet’.  And then we jump onto the newest diet bandwagon.  And most of the time we do not succeed.  Why is that?  Because we forget to incorporate exercise. 
Simple thinking says that you must take in fewer calories than you burn every day.  This will cause you to burn some of your stored up calories (fat).  But it is not always that easy. 
There are two ways that you can cause a calorie deficit. The first is by eating less and the second is to exercise more.  The best way to make sure that you can succeed in continuous fat loss without hitting a plateau is to have a healthy combination of both. 
The reason why only eating less does not work is because you’re body has an instinctual ‘starvation mode’.  As soon as your body perceives that there is a period of starvation with too little food to fuel you, it lowers its metabolism to conserve energy.  It does this to protect the brain. 
The brain always needs glucose (carbohydrates) to function.  However, glucose cannot be stored in the body.  The only place your body can then get a hold of glucose is to ‘eat’ its own muscle.  This lowers your metabolism and causes the starvation response.  In this way your body accomplishes two things: it provides glucose for the brain and since you have less muscle, your body needs less food.  And that is when you hit the fat loss plateau.
When you combine exercise with your diet, the body reasons that because you are doing something, there is probably enough food around and it shouldn’t worry about the supply.  And so the starvation response is usually avoided.  The two most efficient types of exercise that can accomplish this are weight training and aerobic exercise (cardiovascular exercise / cardio).  This article is specifically about the cardio section.  In a later article I will sing the praises of weight training… Keep an eye out for that one. 
I used to hate doing cardio – I used to get tired just thinking of it.  This negative attitude made it very difficult for me to commit to it.  But once I used mind over matter to overcome that obstacle, and my body adapted to it, it became easier.  How does your body adapt? It makes a lot of changes but here are a few major ones:
    • Your body becomes more efficient at moving nutrientsand oxygen because it builds new capillaries



  • The cells create more mitochondria (the power station of the cell)




  • Your heart, a muscle, becomes stronger like all the other muscles in your body




  • Your body produces more blood  which translates into more oxygen




That does not mean that the same amount and type of exercise will burn more calories, but that your body is able to do the exercise more efficiently and eventually you will be able to do exercise that will burn more calories in the same amount of  time like jogging instead of walking.
Over time, your body will adapt to the type of exercise that you are doing and become accustomed to the intensity, duration and frequency of it.  Being very lazy, the body will not work harder than it needs to so you will have to increase or ‘overload’ the intensity, duration or frequency to boost results.  Depending on which one you choose to increase, your body will adapt to that. For example; if you perform the same aerobic video 3 times per week, your body will grow accustomed to that and will burn the same amount of calories every time.  If you want to burn more calories, you need to increase the frequency of your exercise to 4/5 times per week.  Or you need to increase the amount of time that you do it.  Or you need to increase the intensity of the exercise by moving on to an intermediate or advanced level of exercise.  Whichever one you choose your body will adapt to that specific one.
How does one go about getting into a cardio routine?  If you haven’t done any cardio for some time, you need to start slowly.  You can progress from walking to intermittent jogging to jogging for the whole time to jogging faster or longer.  The hardest part really is just to get started.  In the beginning one needs a lot of discipline – almost a mind over matter thing, until it becomes part of your routine. 
Once you’ve become comfortable with this routine, your body will start to crave the exercise that you’ve made it used to.  Many long time athletes blame this phenomenon on the ‘endorphin high’ they get from exercising.  Exercising releases endorphins into the body.  Endorphins are also called the feel-good hormones.  They create a feeling of well-being, relaxation, improvement in mood and increase your ability to think clearly.  Once your body has become ‘addicted’ to that feeling, you will find that you need less discipline to stick to your routine or, lo and behold, you may even come to enjoy it!
It is also important that you stay well hydrated when doing cardio.  All metabolic processes in the body take place in water.  If you do not have enough water you will not be exercising or thinking at capacity.  Exercising while dehydrated can also cause dizziness, heat exhaustion, make you pass-out or in severe cases cause death.  Make sure that you are drinking water throughout the day and not only when you exercise.
Aside from burning calories and helping you to lose weight, cardio has other benefits which include:
    • It makes your heart strong so it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood



  • It increases lung capacity




  • It helps reduce the risk of heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes




  • It releases endorphins which makes you feel good




  • It helps you sleep better




  • It helps reduce stress




  • It reduces risk of some types of cancer




  • It increases bone density




  • It provides temporary relief from depression and anxiety




  • It increases your confidence in how you feel and look




  • It raises energy levels




  • It sets a good example for children on how to take care of themselves  




5 Ways To Listen Better

5 Ways To Listen Better
So…much later than I promised in the first article, I at last came round to writing the last part of the 3 articles about how sound influences our lives.
Due to our lifestyles, we are losing our listening. We may spend about 60% of our communication time listening, but we are not very good at it.  Of that 60% that we hear, we only retain 25% of what we hear.
To listen is to make meaning from sound. 
It is a mental process and a process of extraction. 
To do this we use different techniques. 
One of the techniques is pattern recognition.  For instance, if you are in a noisy room and you say someone’s name, they will probably pay attention.  We use patterns to distinguish between useless noise and signals, especially the pattern of our name. 
Another technique we use is called differencing.  If you leave a monotonous noise on for some time, you would cease to hear it.  We listen for differences and we ignore sounds that remain the same.
We also have a whole range of filters of which most people are entirely unconscious of.  The purpose of these filters is to reduce a bunch of sound down to what we pay attention to. They shape our reality because they tell us what we’re paying attention to right now. 
Sound also places us in sound and time.  If you close your eyes, you are still aware of the size of the room from the reverberation and the bouncing of the sound off the surfaces.  You are also aware of how many people are around you because they make micro-noises which you receive and interpret.  Sound places us in time because sound always has time embedded in it. One can trace the flow of time from past to future by following the sounds relating to the time.   Jean-Luc Nancy said that “Sonority is time and meaning.”
So why are we losing our listening?  There are a lot of reasons.  Firstly, we invented ways of recording through writing, then audio recording and now video recording.  This means that it isn’t important that we have to listen accurately anymore.  Secondly, the world has become incredibly noisy. With all this auditory and visual input and cacophony, it’s just really hard to listen.  Many people use earphones to break big, noisy public spaces down to millions of small, personal sound bubbles.  In this scenario, nobody is listening to anybody.  Thirdly, the speed of our daily lives has made us impatient.  We don’t want long speeches; we want only the short version.  The art of conversation is being replaced by personal broadcasting.  We are becoming desensitized.  The media has to use screaming headlines to get our attention.  And that makes us unable to pay attention the subtle, understated and quiet.
This last factor plays a big role in how we are losing our listening.  Listening is our access to understanding.  Conscious listening always creates understanding.  And only without conscious listening can this degeneration of our listening happen.  This will lead to a world where we don’t listen to each other and that’s very scary! 
Julian Treasure recommends 5 simple exercises to improve your conscious listening.  Number one is silence.  Just 3 minutes a day of silence is enough to reset and recalibrate your ears so you can hear the quiet again.  If you are unable to find silence, go for quiet. 
Number two is the mixer exercise.  When you are in a place with a lot of noise, try to distinguish how many individual channels of sound there is.  You can also do it in a quiet place like a lake.  How many birds can I hear? Where are they? And so on.
The third exercise is called savouring.  You must learn to savour mundane sounds.  The sound of a tumble dryer can turn into a waltz.  Mundane sounds can become interesting and soothing if you let them.  And they are around us all the time.
The fourth exercise is probably the most important and this is listening positions.  You are able to move your listening position to what’s appropriate to what you’re listening to.  You are essentially playing with your filters.  Play with them as you would with levers.  Become conscious of them and move them to different places.
The last exercise is an acronym.  You can use this in listening and communication.  The acronym is RASA.  RASA stands for Receive (pay attention to the person), Appreciate (make little affirmative noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”), Summarize (the word “so” is very important) and Ask (ask questions afterward).