Bye, Bye Cardio Junkie!

Bye, Bye Cardio Junkie!

I used to be a cardio junkie.  I would head straight to the gym after work, hop on the treadmill to run 4-6 miles, then go into a Group X class where I would jump around trying to work up even more of a sweat.  I was under the impression that I needed to sweat more to burn more and in order to sweat I had to do cardio.

Luckily for me I’ve since learned that cardio isn’t actually as crucial in health and fitness as we once thought it was.  Most of you know I experienced some women related issues recently that forced me to cut back on my exercise.  In the process of doing so, I began paying more attention to what many people are saying about the long term effects of excess cardio on the body.

1. Aerobic exercise increases Cortisol levels – High cortisol levels lead to belly fat and make you age faster by increasing inflammation.

2. Leads to chronic inflammation – Chronic inflammation ages tissues and is connected to fat gain, heart disease, insulin resistance and diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cancer, poor reproductive health, and stomach problems.

3. Compromises your immune system – Too much aerobic exercise can put athletes at a greater risk for infection, illness, or sickness.

4. An increased risk of injury – When small muscle tears have no time to repair this can lead to more severe injuries.

5. Requires much more carbohydrates (Sugar) – People who do more cardio are more likely to binge on carbohydrates because their body needs the sugar to continue working aerobically.   (Source)

Now, do I think all cardio is bad?  No, personally I still enjoy a good spin class, boot camp, or possibly even some running.  However, I’ve learned my body reacts much better to less cardio and more HIIT training, heavy lifting, or shorter workouts.

Here’s a few other things I’ve discovered since cutting back on my cardio,

  • You don’t have to be drenched in sweat at the end of a workout in order for it to be a good one.  I used to think if I didn’t sweat, I wasted my time.  Boy was I wrong!  I’ve spent an hour in yoga doing extraneous movements without sweating and was much more sore the following day than I would have been running 10 miles!
  • You can burn just as many calories with a 20 minute HIIT workout than with an hour of a cardio class.  Have you tried HIIT workouts before?  In case you aren’t sure what HIIT is, it stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Alternating between short spurts of intense anaerobic exercise with spurts of less intense recovery periods.  You can read more about it here but it’s great to add into your  fitness plan and there are a ton of different ways to do so!  Here’s just a few of mine,


Treadmill HIIT workout 20 minutes

  • I like muscles – When I was spending most my time focusing on cardio, I didn’t notice as much muscle and strength as I see now.  Not only am I seeing more of my muscles, I’m feeling much stronger as well and loving it!
  • I enjoy spending more time with my son and less time at the gym – Don’t get me wrong, I love my gym time.  However, I also love being with my family and with how busy we are lately the less time I spend at the gym, the more quality time I get with them.  Now that my workouts have gone from sometimes close to 2 hours down to 30 min to an hour, I have more time to do so.  Here’s one of my most recent quick workouts that I created to save me some time,

 PicMonkey Collage

  • My body likes me better when I’m doing less cardio – Meaning, I’m not sick as often, I have a normal menstrual cycle, and I feel better overall.

I’m not saying that everyone should quit doing cardio after reading this.  I am a firm believer in do what works best for you and there was a time in my life when my body handled excess cardio much better than it does now.  However, there is a lot of research lately showing that too much cardio can be harder on our bodies than we once thought.  I do recommend taking a look at just how much aerobic exercise you do in one week and asking yourself if it’s too much?

You might surprise yourself with how much better I feel cutting back.  I know I did!

P.S. – The WholeMe giveaway ends on Sunday so make sure to enter before then!


  • Are you or have you been in the past a cardio junkie?  
  • How many days of cardio do you do in one week?  





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  1. Danielle B says:

    Great post! I completely agree! After I discovered HIIT, I’ve never looked back. . And now I almost feel like it’s a waste to do a regular cardio workout. I always thought I hated running, until I started HIIT- then I realized that I only hate running for more than 30 min, I’d MUCH prefer to do sprints!

  2. What a wonderful post. I completely agree with everything you said. Like you I used to think I had to be at the gym for hours and had to do lots of cardio. But once I discovered otherwise I started to love working out again and have never felt better. I didn’t discover this until after Sophia was born and I simply didn’t have the time. Thank you for the reminder. Love it!!!

    I am so glad you have figured out a way to work out and feel good!!!

  3. I used to be the girl that would jump on the elliptical for an hour and not think twice. I’d lift weights from time to time but I think since I didn’t have a machine telling me how many calories I was burning, I felt like I wasn’t burning any or at least not very many.

    Times have changed and aside from running, my cardio time is greatly reduced and I’d rather hit the gym and strength train more days than not. 🙂

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I was that girl too! I did cardio then the weight machines for hours! I’m so glad I’ve learned not to do that anymore. What a waste of time!

  4. Over the last year and a half to two years I have also cut back on my cardio and now do more strength training. I love this so much more, and like you said, there are so many benefits to doing this!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Right! It’s so nice to hear so many women who are realizing it’s not all about the cardio!

  5. This is a wonderful post! I’ve always been a huge cardio junkie and had the same thoughts as you…if I wasn’t completely soaked in sweat, than I wasn’t getting a good workout. Well a few months ago, I fracture my foot and had to stop cardio. I focused on strength exercise instead and you’re right…I saw changes in my body – more so than with doing all cardio workouts. I think it’s all about balance. We need cardio, but we also need to do strength training as well. Now that my foot is healed, my plan is still to incorporate cardio, but I was to continue with more strength training as well.

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Thank you Holly! Sometimes it takes an injury or other health issue to really slow us down. Those injuries are typically because we were overdoing it in the first place and our body has had enough! Balance is key!

  6. I really haven’t been doing much cardio at all. Maybe 2 times a week!

  7. Another wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing! I’m starting to become more and more convinced that I’m doing entirely too much cardio and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself to take a step back. I do weight training 3x/week but maybe I should try supplementing some of my cardio intervals with shorter HIIT workouts.

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      It’s taken me a long time to truly cut back. In my mind I thought I had by only doing spin once a week and boot camp twice a week with no running but it was way too much. Now I do only one day of a shorter duration of Spin or boot camp and the rest of my days are strength or something else.

  8. HIIT is so much more fun than steady state in my opinion. The benefits are awesome. I’m always a fan of doing what works for you. If cardio is the thing you love – do it. If weight lifting is what you love – do that. While it’s great to mix it up, it’s always better to at least get to the gym for most people so I always just say do what you love to do.
    I just happen to love both. Mostly pilates, barre, and spin classes though:)

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I’m with you on HIIT! Definitely a great workout in a short time which is awesome! I do have to say that people who love cardio (I was one of them) can be oblivious to the damage they are doing. Even if you love it, it might not be great for you. I’m 100% positive that over doing it on cardio contributed to my loss of cycle. I see so many women at my gym spending hours doing cardio because they love it and think it’s best.

  9. I’m with you on the HIIT and interval workouts! I recently posted some too

  10. I totally agree! Less is more with cardio! I love HIIT and usually just to two 30 minutes sessions of it a week and that is good enough for me. Strength training and yoga is where it is really at 😉

  11. I definitely was not sad to leave my cardio junkie days behind me. Spending hours in the gym and being drenched with sweat used to be my idea of a good workout too, but I’ve actually noticed SO many positive effects since cutting back on the intensity of my exercise and throwing in short bursts of HIIT. I don’t think a lot of women realize how bad of an effect too much stress from exercise can have on their bodies — something I was definitely guilty of as well!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I agree, so many women don’t know the damage they are doing to their bodies. I’m almost mad at myself it took me so long to realize it!

  12. Love this! I think it’s a tough pill to swallow when you LOVE cardio–especially for the runners out there. I pretty much only run now for stress relief or to get the kinks out after a long day of sitting–which is actually a lot, haha, but I’ll only do 10-20 min, and then switch to strength training.

    So glad you’re feeling better and more balanced lately!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Yes, definitely hard for cardio runners to swallow. Myself included but I’m so glad I’ve learned to cut back some. I truly do feel better and know that I’m doing better for my body.

  13. I love this post, Giselle. You’re so right… I know so much of this cognitively but I just LOVE to run so I’ve never really bothered to change, other than adding in more weights. But I’ve really been looking forward to mixing it up after this marathon (which I now might be pulling out of anyway). I definitely agree there are many better ways to train our bodies (especially if it’s results/muscle you’re looking for!)

  14. it’s been a long journey for me to break my cardio addiction and even now any day i don’t do cardioi still feel guilt. however i’m getting better about less cardio or cardio-less days. i don’t have a kid but can really relate to the bullet about wanting to spend more time with your son. i like to have more time to be out having FUN! and so i’d much rather do a 30 minute HIIT step mill workout than a 60 minute spin class. hello 30 more minutes to spend with friends & fam!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I’m right there with you as far as feeling a little guilt. I think it will take me years to really truly get over my cardio cravings. I was just so conditioned to move!

  15. Yes! I love this! This is a message that seriously needs to be spread. I was under this same assumption though through injuries and just not feeling great from so much cardio I have definitely learned my lesson. Thanks Giselle!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Thank you! I feel the same way! More people, women in general need to hear about the health risks of overdoing it with cardio. Unfortunately we are just so trained to work our bodies to the max!

  16. Thanks for sharing this. I really NEEDED this. I often feel guilty when I don’t get in an intense cardio workout…I definitely need to cut myself (and my body) some slack!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Yes! It’s amazing how much damage can be done to our metabolisms and bodies by over doing it with cardio. Unfortunately I learned this first hand but glad I finally did!

  17. Thank you for this post! I have been really looking for a new routine an am going to give this a go!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Hope it helps! I’ll be posting a little more about my fitness routine this Friday if you’re interested 🙂

  18. Such a great post, and I think one that many women will benefit from reading! I have become very attuned to my body, and it tells me when enough is enough in terms of cardio.

  19. Even though I still do a lot of cardio, my mindset and attitude towards it have definitely changed. I fell in love with HIIT a couple years ago not long after that. That being said, I arguably still do a LOT of traditional cardio since I teach Zumba three times a week and usually squeeze something else in like a run. However, now I’m doing that because it’s fun and I enjoy it, not because it’s something I think I need to do to get a good workout. I don’t think I could ever give up the group X environment because it makes me happy, but you’ll never catch me slogging away on cardio machines for cardio’s sake alone. Oh, and I’m totally with you about yoga! It’s one of those other things I’ve always loved, and it never ceases to amaze me how crazy sore I can be even though I feel nothing at the time. Great post! Have a fabulous weekend 🙂

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I toyed with the idea of becoming a group x instructor spin in particular. However, I knew that I would love it, do it too much, and that in the long run it wouldn’t be good for MY body. I think it’s awesome that you and other instructors can handle that and love what your doing. In some ways I wish I could too but like I said, I know it’s not right for me at this point in my life. I’m always amazed at what muscles and how much of my body is sore after yoga! Especially Piyo!

  20. This is a great post. I have been really busy with school the past few weeks and gym time has become quite valuable. I would often feel like if I only had 20 minutes at the gym I was waisting my time, but I have started to learn that workouts don’t have to be long to be effective, and yoga is a wonderful treat on a Monday night. No, I don’t get sweaty during the hour but I am sore the next day.

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      I used to feel that way as well and spend way longer than I needed to at the gym. So glad I’m not doing that any longer!

  21. I feel like I could’ve written this post myself! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more with you. I like a good cardio sweat a couple days a week, but my true favorite these days is my Power Pump Class. It makes me feel so strong, it’s fun, and I can see that my work is paying off!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Thanks Ashley! I thought you might like it 🙂 While I do still miss some of my cardio classes I’m learning to enjoy other methods of exercise just as much!

  22. Love this post friend!! I used to be a cardio junkie myself, but now I rarely do it. I focus on yoga, weights, and walking as my source of cardio!

  23. I’m late to the game, but I love love LOVE this!! I have actually really been thinking about switching up how much cardio I do because I think it might be too much. Love this topic!!

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Thanks Heather! Yes, as much as I don’t want to push cutting out cardio on others I do think it’s good to cut back 🙂

  24. Tina Turner says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have terrible cardio cravings. It’s not that I did intense cardio exercises or felt a need to be drenched in sweat, but I’d walk for two or three hours a day in one go nearly every day, not giving my body time to recover. Walking is just *so* relaxing, especially when paired with a good podcast, but our bodies cannot handle so much walking for so long. Furthermore, it was hard having to plan to fuel properly; I needed 2.3-3k calories, and several grams of carbs, protein, and fat to support all the walking, and it got really annoying after a time. I’m learning to step back, let go, and incorporate shorter walking sessions into my exercise plans. It is so so hard, but I’m doing my best.

    • Giselle Schroer says:

      Glad you enjoyed this post. Best of luck to you on your cardio recovery 🙂