I love cardio....and you should too!
It gets your heart pumping...and when your heart is pumping, that means you are burning fat! Isn't that incentive enough to do some sort of cardio? I think so!
Do you know what your age predicted heart rate max is? Here's the equation if you don't:
220 - Age = HR max
Now, take that number times it by .20 & .30....keep those numbers handy. Your heart rate, during cardio should be between those 2 numbers in order to be assured you're burning fat. (Of course there are always exceptions to the case, but for most people, this applies.)
When you first begin a cardio session, your body is burning sugar, not fat. It's not until you reach about 20 to 30 minutes that your body starts burning fat. And when your HR (heart rate) reaches that lower number you calculated above, that's when you know you're definitely burning fat!
Cardio is like extra credit for your body. Your body naturally burns calories...which is known as, your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Throwing in a 30 minute jog, walk, or run just adds to that BMR, allowing you who love food, to eat more :)
Here's a quick example:
Sue weighs 160 pounds & is not an active person. 160 pounds x 10 calories = 1600 calories that Sue should consume each day in order to stay the weight that she is currently. That's also the rough estimate of her BMR. Calories in = calories out. If Sue were to throw in a 30 minute jog, in which she ran about a 10 to 11 minute mile, she'd burn roughly 270 to 310 calories. Add those calories to her BMR and that gets her close to 2000 calories. If Sue is eating right, and counting calories, she may see that deficit of only having consumed 1600 calories but burning 1870 to 1910 calories. Creating that deficit is how you lose weight.
There are more tailored equations that would give each individual a much more accurate number than by simply taking your weight & timesing it by a number. For simplicity's sake, I chose to use the less cumbersome calculation.
Take your weight times:
10 for sedentary
12 for moderately active
14 for very active
Those figures will give you a rough estimate on calorie consumption & burn.
So what now?
Challenge yourself to cardio 4 times a week! If you are currently on a cardio regimen, maybe kick it up a notch once a week & slowly progress to more frequent bursts of all out effort. For you beginners, find 30 minutes in your day where you can take a walk, maybe in your neighborhood or even in your office. Just get moving!
Optimally shoot for 4 days a week, 30 minutes each day, of doing some sort of physical activity...it could be walking, jogging, swimming, tennis, basketball, etc. As long as your heart rate is up, you're working!