Getting the heart pumping has many benefits for health and wellness.
First, there is heart health, which is imperative in this day and age since the numbers of death each year from lifestyle related heart disease has soared to epidemic levels.
Second, there is healthy weight management. Excess body fat leads to obesity, another condition at epidemic levels in the United States and across the world that causes various diseases, and early death from heart attacks, stroke, has been linked to several cancers and others.
Both of these reasons should be more than enough to convince any sensible person to engage in some type of cardio training at least 3 times per week. And, take note that this includes kids as well, since obesity rates have soared for the children of America to unprecedented levels.
Choosing the right form of cardiovascular exercise can be challenging. But in the big picture, it really all boils down to one thing. Well, maybe two things.
What do YOU like the best? And what is best for YOUR body?
Don’t just do a type of cardio because you think it’s fashionable. For example, if you are obese or have lower back or knee pain, do not run! Just because your friend is looking for a running partner doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you. Always think in terms of safe or dangerous. In this case, running is dangerous. Kettlebell workouts, on the other hand are not.
It all boils down to impact. While doing what are known as ballistic kettlebell exercises, you burn a lot of calories, recruit a lot of muscle groups, and most importantly, endure very little impact on your joints. That can’t be said with running. You feel impact from your toes right on up to your cervical spine.
And kettlebell workouts are not the only forms of cardio that spare your joints from uncomfortable impact. Biking, elliptical training, stair climbing, arc training and compact climbing can also be included.
The difference between these forms of cardio compared to kettlebells though lies in the way they are performed. During kettlebell workouts, your body is not being led by mechanical apparatuses, such as those you would see on an elliptical or exercise bike. You are sort of just being guided along by these machines.
The second you remove a kettlebell from the ground to do an exercise, the fireworks begin. You have to control that ball of cast iron through the entire movement you put it through, and you always have to pay very strict attention to what you are doing.
This causes you to recruit a very high amount of muscle fiber, while always keeping your core tight.
You may get some core recruitment when sprinting or balancing your body on a bike, but it’s pale in comparison to that which you would experience in a kettlebell workout.
People who engage in regular bouts of cardio are always concerned about caloric expenditure too. A well-known fact about kettlebell workouts is they burn a ton of calories. It is not uncommon to burn over 1,000 calories in a one-hour kettlebell workout. Of course, this involves doing a high-intensity protocol and it takes a while to build up the physical stamina to get there.
The complexity of workouts is another factor you should take into consideration when comparing kettlebells to other cardio. A lot of people are turned off by the typical running and biking workouts because they seem brainless. You just keep doing the same thing over and over again for an extended period of time. There’s no versatility.
If you run or bike outside, you at least have a change of scenery, which can motivate you, but you’re still doing the same repetitive motion.
Kettlebell workouts give you metric tons of combinations and variations to choose from. Even if you did one exercise, like a swing, you can create variations that will never leave you bored.
For example, you have a basic two-hand swing, single arm swings, single arm alternating swings and double kettlebell swings. Once you get proficient, you can add more ballistic exercises to the mix like high pulls, cleans and snatches.
The bottom line is, choose wisely when you decide to do cardio. There is nothing wrong with running, biking, cross-country skiing or inline skating. But if you get bored easy, just know that kettlebells can add a whole new dimension to your training.