by Dana Cavalea May 04, 2017

Stressed out?
Is the mirror shrinking?

I have a solution for you. Cardio. More Cardio.

Cardiovascular exercise has always had a very negative stigma to many because they are frustrated with their results compared to the amount of time they put in.

Totally understood. Just remember as the great, late Coach John Wooden said, "Don't mistake time for progress." Less is usually more.

What if the benefits of cardio went beyond your waistline and actually "evened" you out..simmering your mood, relaxing your body and mind, allowing for a life with more vitality and mental freedom?

Would you enjoy it more? Would you volunteer yourself to do it with less of a fight?

That is the true power of cardio. The ability to "balance and mellow" you out. Weight-loss is a side-dish to the entree.

If you are just looking at cardio for the effects of physique improvement, you are overlooking the major unspoken benefits of relaxation and peaceful thinking.

Many people today are talking about meditation and mindfulness as the keys to "finding yourself and greater solitude".. but none of the experts ever mention cardio as a way to achieve those goals. If you hate yoga and meditation, why should those be your only options?

Engaging in daily bouts of "cardio" to start and end your day- 20-30 minutes at a speed above "comfortable"-- the point where your heart rate is accelerated will also get you there. It will also build your self-esteem in the process.

Consider cardio time spent on burning off your "top-layer" with every step you take.

Using cardio to bring your state down to normal, and regulating the release/ intensity of your adrenal hormones (typically associated with anxiety) will help with daily concentration and decision making, since your "aroused" state will be defeated by reduction of overactivity of the parasympathetic nervous system.

I had a great conversation with a client today that called his daily cardio routine, his "therapy".. saying, "When I don't do it, I am just not the same guy.. irritable, aggressive, split minded"..

Who would of thought, an activity that is dreaded nationwide could have some great results if we choose to switch our focus from the exclusive result of weight-loss to the result of stress-relief and mental therapy.

The benefits of cardio also carry over into your daily planning as well (no matter what your line of work). Taking a 30 minute bout of time for yourself gives you the opportunity to think about your daily agendas, plans and objectives.

Personally, as somebody that employs people and has a lot of moving parts, it gives me a chance to think about how everybody is performing (including myself) , moves that have to be made to accelerate outcomes and future planning.

I'm sure convincing you to do cardio for the mental health benefits is a stretch.. so let's now talk physical health.

If you enjoy longer bouts of cardio, no problem.. but just remember, the greater your intensity, the less time is actually needed to obtain the greatest results. For those that are not into long bouts.. just introduce "bursts".

Translation of a Burst: If you can push yourself to heart rates above 80% (bursts) of your maximum heart rate (220-age) x .8, .85, .9.. and incorporate these "bursts" into your jog, run, hike, ride, or elliptical program, you will start to see faster physical transformation in less time. The "bursts" get you the results even if you only have 15 minutes to get your work in.

Sample: Select your mode of cardio, perform a 15 second burst, 45 seconds of steady state cardio (below 80%) x 15, 20, 25, 30 minutes.. very simple but much better than a steady state program and much greater results.

Too many people work at "comfortable" and that is why they do not make the gains they want.. and leave saying "cardio" does not work. It does.. the question is "Do you?"

When I was commissioned with the job to strip 10-30 lbs. off a player in 6 weeks of Spring Training, the plan was simple:

Cardio with Bursts 2x/ day (30minutes per session).. with a weight training circuit in the middle of the day to keep the metabolism running all day long and through the night. This coupled with a "clean" eating plan is the answer.

It was simple and it worked quickly. "Burst" your way to greater gains. Cardio your way to a calmer mind.

Do me a favor, next time you go to a gym.. look at how "slow and steady" everybody is working; that is the reason why they make no gains when it comes to weight-loss and body fat improvement.


Dana Cavalea
Dana Cavalea

Dana Cavalea is the World Champion Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance of the New York Yankees. Currently, he is a High Performance Speaker & Consultant to Pro Athletes, Entrepreneurs, Business Executives, and Workforces on lifestyle strategies to reduce stress, improve work/life integration, and most importantly improve daily performance /outcomes. Book Dana to Speak at your Company Event or Conference Today!

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