Cardio = Cardiovascular
Cardio generally refers to the cardiovascular system in your body. It's basically the system that takes blood and moves it around your body. We all know what it's like to get a pumping heart beat, but the key is to keep your heart rate high for extended periods of time.
The effects of a cardio exercise really kick in about 30 minutes into the workout. Doing these types of exercises for 5 or 10 minutes doesn't give you the full effect so make sure you carve out some time in your workout schedule for some cardio.
Types of Cardio Exercises
Running, Jogging, or Walking
You can use applications on your smartphone to track your run, but I prefer to run unencumbered. It comes down to personal preference.
The only down side to running and jogging is that it is potentially hard on the knees and shins if you get started out to fast. I do not recommend this type of exercise if you have weak knees or previous injuries that could risk getting re-injured.
If boxers do it, why can't you? Jumping rope is great because it elevates the heart beat and keeps it high. You really don't even need a rope, you could just repeat a short jump up and down.
Workout-quality jumping rope will cost you less than $30. Most of the time it's sold for $20 at the local sporting goods store.
Swimming is great for a whole body exercise. It uses pretty much all your muscles and really helps get your heart rate high.
The only obstacles for swimming are the requirement: having a body of water. Most gyms have pools that you can swim laps in, so don't completely blow off this idea if you don't have a community or private pool.
Playing A Sport
Playing a sport that emphasizes cardio is a great way to "force" yourself to workout even if you don't like it. I recommend sports like soccer, basketball, or any other sport where you are constantly moving.
Machines: Stair Climbing, Ellipticals, and Rowing
Finally, if you have a gym membership or some home equipment, you can use a machine to help you out. I'm not a big fan of using machines for cardio but they are great for people who just want to listen to music or watch some television while working out.
Stair climbing machines are just 4 step escalators that keep moving downwards at you, which can really work on your quadriceps (Front thigh muscles). Elliptical machines basically mimic jogging or running without the impact which is great for those recovering from injury. Also, rowing machines are another whole body workout and really get your heart rate soaring.
Make sure you do not do more than your body can handle right away. It takes time to strengthen your heart so you can do longer cardio activities.