Cardio is defined as any exercise that stimulates your heart to beat at a higher rate than normal. Cardio or aerobic exercise can include activities like walking, running, HIIT, cycling, playing sports or circuit training.

According to Participaction, adults aged 18-64 years should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. Walking or swimming are examples of moderate activity, while vigorous activity includes higher-intensity activities like running or spin class.

There is no 'best' cardio exercise, anything that gets your heart rate up works. Even some chores like raking leaves or washing the car can elevate your heart rate, so do what you enjoy!

While you may know that cardio is great for your heart and burning calories, here are 4 other surprising benefits:

Improves memory and thinking ability

The hippocampus is a small organ located within the brain's medial temporal lobe. It plays a very important role is short-term and long-term memory. When you exercise this is the part of the brain that responds and studies have shown the fitter you get the bigger the hippocampus grows.

Improves your mood (especially after a stressful day)

Ever heard of a runner’s high? That’s the feeling of euphoria and a reduced sense of pain that you feel after running a couple of miles. Not a runner? No worries, any kind of regular workout can give you a runner’s high. Mostly, it comes from long workout at a moderate intensity, so in this case you won’t get the same results from a shorter, intense workout.

Deeper and more restful sleep

Studies show that people who identify as exercisers reported better sleep than those who consider themselves non-exercisers. Want to fall asleep faster? Just 10 minutes of cardio activity can improve your nighttime sleep.

Boosts your immune system

Research from The U.S. National Library of Medicine shows that working out at a moderate intensity can cut down on the number of colds you get. Not only does cardio helps flush the bacteria in your lungs and airways but it also raises your body temperature and may prevent bacteria from growing.