"Cardio" is the "Economic Stimulus Bill" of the fitness world. You can put your hopes in it, but generally it isn't going to do anything for you, and it will just waste your time and resources.
Most people don't realize that there was "life before cardio". People used to exercise outdoors. They participated in sports. They played games - outside! - with their family and friends. They used their feet or bicycles for transportation (rather than driving 15 minutes to the gym to go do "cardio").
So here are the top 5 reasons why I think the term "cardio" is lame.
1) People hate doing cardio.
Have you ever met a person who smiled when they said, "Oh, I have to go do cardio now." (That's not the same as the excitement an endurance athlete gets when they go "training". That's different from "cardio". Endurance athletes don't call their workouts, "cardio".)
So if you are a runner, and you love to run, and you tell me (with a smile), "I'm going out for a run", then that's cool by me. Nothing wrong with that. But if don't like to run, and you tell me (with a pout), "I'm going out for a run because I have to get my cardio", then I say, "Boooooo to that". Life's to short to hate your workouts!
2) People mistakingly believe that 30 minutes of half-assed cardio (which is what most people do) will help them lose weight.
But it won't. It just wastes their time. People are obsessed with the calorie counters on machines. I truly believe this is how folks get hooked and obsessive compulsive with cardio...because all they can think about is how many calories they have burned, and how much food that means they can eat.
"Cardio" does not promote healthy relationships with food.
3) People think you have to "cardio" (i.e. go to a gym and exercise on a machine that doesn't go anywhere) for 30 minutes in order to be healthy.
You don't have to do "cardio" to be healthy. There is so much more to health than 30 minutes of "cardio". Your diet is more important for your cardiovascular health than your exercise regime. Plus, as long as you're active each day (doing manual labor, "cardio", playing sports, or lifting weights), you're doing enough to meet the minimum required amount of exercise for cardiovascular health.
4) People think "cardio" will help them with sports performance or their short, burst fitness (like climbing stairs).
It rarely does.
In fact, the guy who does "cardio" in preparation for his basketball, soccer, hockey, or Ultimate Frisbee league is going to be sorely disappointed by how slow he is - and by how he lacks sports-specific fitness as much as all the guys who just lifted weights all off-season. Plus, doing traditional "machine cardio" does not prepare you for sports-specific movements or speed of movement, so you're just as likely - if not more likely - to get injured during the early season.
5) It signifys a waste of time, inefficiency, and a sheep-like mentality towards doing something just because everyone else is doing it.
Seriously, if you were from another planet and you came down to earth and went into a big commercial gym and look at the "cardio" section, pardon me, the "cardio theater" section, you'd smile to yourself and say, "wow, this planet is going to e easy picken's".
"Cardio" is also lame because people use cardio as a time to catch up on their magazine reading and TV watching (and now Internet and email time). That about says it all. Workout time is not multi-task time.
So what should you be doing instead if you want to sculpt your body, burn fat, lose your belly, and get lean before summer?
You should skip the "cardio" (let's not ever use that phrase again) and focus on total-body, multi-muscle resistance training and interval training exercises to help you build "everyday" strength and fitness (like the ability to carry groceries or children, or climb 3 flights of stairs as fast as possible).
Plus, with these total body workouts, you'll save time and get more health benefits than you will with straight "cardio". (Sorry to use that term again.)
Helping you get more results while saving time and money,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training
PS - If you want the best, fastest, and most effective fat burning workouts that you can do at home...
...(without the indignity of driving to a gym to use a sweaty, disgusting "cardio" machine), then grab your copy of Turbulence Training for Fat Loss.