Why you need cardio for that great looking body

“Oh my god! I can’t believe how much oily food, I stuffed my tummy with, during the last new-year season. I should start my gym work out really soon, otherwise, I will definitely end up like a fat pig!” says Shani.

This is the mindset of most of us following a huge flood of food where the mind starts regretting while the body starts gaining calories. The gym with power tools and machines become our ulterior savior with cardio ruling the scenario.

What is cardio and how does it help you to achieve your dream body?

To discuss more on this subject, we had our today’s Satyn health chat with Dr. Upul Madahapola, Secretory, Sri Lanka Sports Medicine Association, ExCo member, Asian Federation of Sports Medicine.

“Cardio is the shortened form for ‘Cardiovascular’ system, made up of the heart and blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood around the body and bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Engaging in cardio simply describes the involvement of an individual in exercises that create bodily endurance resulting in an enhancement of the effectiveness of the cardiovascular system. A properly functioning cardiovascular system will do miracles when it comes to your health and that is the reason why Cardio plays a marked aspect of your gym work out or fitness training” says Dr. Madahapola.

According to WHO, any activity which raises your heartbeat up to 50-75% of the maximum value it usually owns, is defined as Cardio. This value can be roughly calculated by reducing your age from 220.

E.g.: If you are 30 years old, The maximum heart rate you can possibly go up to is 220-30= 190

Dr. Upul Madahapola (MBBS Peradeniya, Dip Spo Med (Colombo)
Secretary, Srilanka Sports Medicine Association / ExCo member, Asian Federation of Sports Medicine

Cardio can be a little tiring, yet a powerful tool

“Cardio will definitely make you feel tired, but a perfect carry out will ultimately end you up with a healthy fat loss. It also produces an energy deficit in our metabolism that results in a marked reduction of the amount of food, required to meet the daily energy requirement” highlights Dr.Madahapola.

The point here is Cardio must always be carried out in a manner that focuses on a maximal break-down of fat for energy while sparing the muscle mass. This is where the magic of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) comes to the scenario.

This special tactic involves 20 minutes of cardio comprising of,

  • Warming-up
  • Short high-intensity period
  • Moderate low-intensity period
  • Cooling-down phase


According to Dr. Madahapola, our body heats up excessively during work outs-just like a car engine.

Therefore, getting your body slowly adjusted to such changes is mandatory, since sudden heat-ups without any former preparation can even result in death. A good warm-up will dilate your blood vessels and ensure good nourishment to muscles whereas the body temperature will get adjusted for optimal efficiency.

E.g. Light cardio and Dynamic stretching exercises

At the end of this set of warming up exercises, your body is now prepared to face any challenge related to strength, HIIT, endurance, power, toning, or stretching.


“Cooling down is as important as warm-ups, as all your heated body muscles and dilated blood vessels should come back to its normal status-following a tough session of work-out, in order to function in the normal pace. Lack of cooling down exercises can lead to discomfort or fainting attacks so it is always better to spend some time on re-structuring your fatigued muscles through dynamic stretching and cardio” says Dr. Madahapola.

He further mentioned that this Dynamic Stretching will reduce the formation of lactic acid in muscles which is responsible for cramps and stiffness.

Oscillating between high and low-intensity phases is the hallmark that maintains your body in a ‘fat-burning mode’, thus sparing carbohydrates or proteins for energy and the muscle mass.

Take home message

Always seek expert advice before starting body endurance workouts rather than going hay wire-because wrong techniques can end you up with various disastrous situations that might even keep you bed-bound for weeks and months.

images courtesy – The Fit Indian /Livestrong

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