It is a common trend these days in the fitness community that cardio is not required, and that resistance training/yoga alone is enough to live a healthy and fulfilling life. That is not the whole truth though as cardiovascular fitness has multiple health benefits that you cannot find anywhere else. This is due to the improved circulation throughout the body, which results in:
1.) Improved eyesight:
Something that wasn’t even considered until recent scientific studies that have definitively proven that improved circulation extends to the eyes and the blood flow to the retina which allows its cones and rods to absorb more light, leading to improved vision.
2.) Improved cognition/memory:
The improved blood flow to your eyes also extends to your entire head including your brain. Increased cerebral blood flow via your carotid arteries improves the efficiency of its neurons which drastically improves their performance and one’s general cognitive ability. People who care about their intellect must be careful to not neglect their fitness, as they may be gimping their performance.
3.) Improved recovery times from physical activity:
Increased blood flow also leads to an increased rate of blood clotting (plus delivery of nutrients) and thus healing of all of the body’s tissues. Weightlifters often skip cardio due to not seeing the benefits for muscle growth; however, the improved recovery time alone will result in more intense gym sessions which in turn will further increase hypertrophy. The key is to just do moderate cardio and not to make it the main focus of your workout sessions.
4.) Improved breathing control and quality:
People who are frequently out of breath, suffer from asthma or some other bronchospasm disorder can significantly improve their symptoms by incorporating some regular cardio exercise into their weekly routine. This is due to the fact your lungs require blood flow to perform gaseous exchange at the lungs (in the alveoli). Thus, improving the blood flow increases the rate at which your body converts filtered air into oxygen in your bloodstream (Improving performance as well).
5.) Improved mental health:
Most cardio activity is linked with the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins which help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and grief. It shares the #1 spot with meditation for ways to improve your mental health without the use of psychoactive drugs. It could also help to break the cycle of ruminating thoughts that can cause bad moods.
I know a lot of these benefits seem to be good to be true, however, the research for these benefits has been thoroughly investigated and therefore can be trusted. It also makes sense logically as blood is like the oil for our engine (the body) if we increase the amount of oil we have to use, we will also improve the performance of our engine as it will run more smoothly. Thus our body operates more smoothly and efficiently with more blood flow from a conditioned cardiovascular system.