Why You May Not Need Cardio

From Erika Bloom, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 15 years. She is the founder and owner of Erika Bloom Pilates, with five studios and a renowned certification school. 

Why we don’t need cardio (if we’re doing the right kind of Pilates, Yoga or Ballet)!

1) Cardio is touted as being great for the heart but the circulatory system is not just the heart – it is comprised of veins, arteries, capillaries, and connective tissue. Engaging our muscles, especially the small muscles of our extremities, contracts and expands this system, particularly the capillaries, thereby assisting in drawing the blood in and out of those areas. This creates better oxygenation to our muscles, our organs, and our brain. It increases waste removal, aids in transporting hormones and nutrients throughout the body. Full body exercises that focus on connecting us to every muscle in our body, the way Pilates does, will greatly improve these functions through every part of the body. 

2) Overdoing cardio can actually stress the heart and cause an increase in heart problems.

3) We need to consider our nervous systems. Cardio classes often stimulate the nervous system in a way that increases cortisol and activates the sympathetic nervous system. When our sympathetic nervous system is active, digestion is slowed, immunity is lowered, and the end result can be weight gain or even illness. Many of us live much of our life in a sympathetic (fight or flight) state and our cardio choices just stress us out more. Mindful exercise paired with breath work, like Pilates, shifts us back in to parasympathetic. This improves our health tremendously as well as gives us the balance from which to maintain a healthy weight.

4) The calorie burn we get from cardio is often followed by an increase in food intake, making it a zero sum game. Exercise methods like Pilates that improve our mind/body connection lead us to eat more mindfully and thereby lower calorie intake, leading to a healthier weight.

5) High impact cardio exercises lead to injury which then limit our activity throughout our day, especially as we age. 

6) You can get endorphins from other things that may be more nourishing to you holistically. Laughing, friendship, sex, gazing at beautiful scenery, hugging your baby, doing something nice for someone, and so on.

Read here for our favorite stretches, then try out this full body workout!