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The Worst Cardio Habits That Are Aging You Faster, Trainer Says

Are you doing any of these bad cardio habits in your routine? Ditch them ASAP.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Carving out time for cardio in your regular routine is not a question—it's a necessity. In addition to keeping your heart and joints healthy, this form of exercise can improve everything from the function and state of your lungs, pancreas, and blood, to the quality of sleep you get. (Oh, and expect major energy and mood boosts!) Whether you're biking, running, swimming, or even jumping rope, there are reasons why you should make sure to do the proper amount of cardio and incorporate just the right exercises in your routine. If you don't, then you might be doing more harm than good to your body. For instance, you'll want to check out the following cardio habits that are aging you faster.

We spoke with Rob Wagener, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, who tells us the bad cardio habits you should stop doing ASAP. Read on to learn more, and get ready to ditch them.

You're going hard every time

middle-aged man doing intense cardio workout outdoors in road

Wagener explains that although performing high-intensity cardio is a great way to "get the heart rate and blood pumping" and will put you on the right track to losing weight, it's important to be aware that it can strain your body.

"Just like a car, running it at 100 mph all the time might seem like a good time, but it will eventually lead to a faster breakdown of the essential parts and more likely lead to more frequent injuries," Wagener says, adding, "Low-intensity cardio, such as walking or slow running, can yield calorie-burning weight loss results while giving your body a break from fast-paced activities."

Related: What Science Says About the Cardio Habits That Slow Aging

You're doing too much lower-body cardio

middle-aged man doing stair workout, demonstrating the cardio habits that are aging you faster

When you think of cardio, running, stair climbing, and working out on the treadmill likely come to mind. These exercises can shape and tone the muscles that are working hard. That's all well and good, but Wagener cautions, "Too much lower body cardio can leave the upper body under-conditioned."

So don't forget to show your upper body some TLC, too! Wagener explains you can do this by looking for "ways to increase your heart rate through upper body movements." Battle ropes are a stellar tool to work with if you want to train your upper body via cardio. You can also grab a set of lightweight dumbbells, which Wagener says work a bit quicker and will give you the results you're looking for. "When it comes to cardio, remember it's a total-body opportunity," Wagener stresses.

Related: Fitness Mistakes at 50 That Prevent You From Losing Weight, Says Trainer

You're harming your joints with high-impact cardio

mature woman treadmill workout in gym

If you've ever had sore joints or deal with joint pain on a regular basis, then you know it's an issue that certainly makes you feel older. As Wagener points out, "Nothing will age a person faster than sore joints. Being unable to move fluidly due to pain or joint restriction is not fun."

That's why it's important to make sure you're not harming your joints by indulging in too much of the wrong kind of workout. Wagener tells us, "When it comes to cardio, keep in mind that low-impact cardio can be just as effective for your body as high-impact cardio, but will less pressure and knock on the joints."

For instance, consider working out on an elliptical over the treadmill every now and then. If that doesn't interest you, then what about a water-based workout? As Wagener explains, swimming is an incredible total-body, low-impact cardio workout that's easy on your joints and will have you torching calories.

You're not wearing sun protection when doing outdoor cardio

mature couple running outdoors by lake, demonstrating cardio habits that are aging you faster

When it comes to leaving the house for your workout, Wagener says that getting in your strides outside is one of the best kinds of cardio workouts due to the health benefits and all-around enjoyment. However, when it comes to the cardio habits that are aging you faster, this final one is a major no-no.

Wagener cautions, "The sun can cause havoc on the skin. Too much sun exposure for extended periods of time can lead to advanced skin aging, wrinkling, sunburn, or even worse, skin cancer."

To avoid these issues, he stresses wearing proper protection in order to "protect your skin from the elements." This way, you aren't putting the health of your skin at risk in order to burn some calories. Don't forget your sunscreen!

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée
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