The Best and Worst That Cardio Is Doing to You

Oh, cardio. You know, that workout where your heart is beating out of your chest, beads of sweat are pouring down your face and you think that your arms, legs, abs – and well, your entire body – may turn into jello at any given time. You may get your cardio in by going for a run, doing some HIIT activity, sprints, cycling or even jumping rope for a long duration.

There are so many different forms. Basically, cardio can be summed up as being a tough, fat, pulse-pumping and limit-pushing workout but have you ever thought about the bad that cardio could be doing to your body? Probably not, so let’s discuss the best and worst of cardio and what it really is doing for you because as you already know; with every pro is a con.


Cellular Damage

Uh oh! I hate to start this article off on a bad note but it is no secret that during cardio workouts, your body is producing larger quantities of free radicals to make enough energy for your cells (and you) to get through the duration of your sweat-enthused activity.

The downside to this is that those same free radicals are unstable and break down cell membranes and protein structures. In order for your body to try to counteract this, it releases its antioxidants to stabilize them in hopes to avoid even further cellular damage.

From a cost-benefit angle, solely performing lower-effort exercise – such as steady state cardio – can burn more fat in relative terms, but not in absolute amounts. When you are in the low-effort, steady state mode, the aforementioned more readily available energy options (stored glycogen, circulating blood glucose, intra-muscular fat) can be spared. But training at such a minimal level of effort to solely target adipose fat as energy would be like tossing a deck chair off the Titanic. It would be only a drop out of a full five-gallon bucket. – Breaking Muscle

The good side of this is that as long as you are obtaining an adequate amount of antioxidants in your diet while also exercising regularly, the amount of cellular damage is significantly decreased because free radicals are only dangerous to your body when you do excessive and exhaustive cardio. In other words; do cardio but switch it out a couple of days each week for something a little less extraneous such as yoga.

You’re Breaking Down

You’ve heard of runner’s knee; where runners experience joint and muscle pains and problems due to their excessive amount of cardio (running). You must understand that the muscles and joints in your body are similar to the parts of your treadmill; you need them to work efficiently to be able to use your body to its fullest.

Excessive and exhausting cardio doesn’t give your body enough time to recover, and as a result, those very muscles and joints that you’ve been working so hard to keep fit take a tumble. It’s similar to greasing up the track on your treadmill or doing some annual touch-ups on the system. If you never treat your treadmill, it’s going to experience wear and tear and the same is said for your muscles and joints.

In order to counteract this, enjoy different extremities of cardio; go hard a couple of days a week and maybe take it down a notch the other days.  An idea is to sprint on every other day, and speed-walk the others. This way, you’re doing some cardio every day, but without applying a constant amount of pressure without time for repair.

Takes Time to Lose the Weight

This con may shock you but cardio may make weight loss a much longer process for you because your muscles and joints have taken the brunt of it all. That’s also not to mention that in order to burn the most amount of weight is to reach various levels of body activity which is why HIIT is a huge trend within today’s fitness industry.

Going all out and as hard as you possibly can on a daily basis isn’t going to drop those 10 pounds any faster, but it will place that wear and tear on your body, as mentioned.


The good part of cardio and weight loss is that it does encourage higher stamina, which allows your heart to be stronger and you to ultimately be more fit. Cardio also increases your metabolism which allows your body to burn calories quicker and more effectively. So weight loss is achievable, but constant intense cardio isn’t necessarily the key.

So, give yourself a break. Ultimately, the pros definitely take the bait and you shouldn’t drop your cardio regime altogether. Instead, ensure that your cardio continues to be more beneficial than harmful, eat a proper diet, allow your body to rest and indulge in different extremities and activities of cardio workouts.