Strengthen your cardiovascular system with a cardio workout
Along with strength training, finding a cardio workout that works with your lifestyle is key to achieving your personal fitness goals. The health benefits of a cardio program are plentiful: not only will you lose weight, have more energy and increase the strength of your heart and lungs, you may also experience a decrease in stress, depression or anxiety and an increase in confidence, and you may even sleep better at night.
Cardio Workout Timelines
Though each person's fitness routine will be slightly different (consult a personal trainer and your doctor before you start any fitness program), general guidelines recommend 30 to 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio activity, three to five days a week, or 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio three times a week. The most important thing, however, is that you keep yourself moving throughout the day; for example, find ways to incorporate short walks, whether it's taking the stairs or parking your car at the back of the parking lot.
Types of Cardio Exercise
Keeping your cardio workout fresh is an important part of meeting your fitness goals. Any of these activities can help you ramp up your heart rate, burn fat and tone muscle:
- Running, jogging and walking. These are the easiest forms of cardio, as they require no equipment and can be done both outdoors and indoors (for those who have treadmills). If you have trouble with joint pain, stick with walking to ease the impact and be sure to invest in a good pair of running shoes.
- Elliptical machine or stair climber. If you're at the gym or have home gym equipment, mixing up your running or jogging routine with some time on the elliptical or stair climber can help you work different muscle groups and reinvigorate your program.
- Swimming. Hitting the pool is a great cardio workout, and again, is great for anyone with joint pain or back pain, or prior injuries. Try interchanging strokes as you do laps in the pool or taking a water exercise class for a more fun and social cardio workout.
- Aerobics. Step or floor aerobics are another fun way to add variety to your cardio routine. Taking a class can help you push your limits and learn new exercises that you can integrate into your workout routine.
If you're an athlete, you should consider sports conditioning as part of your cardio workout routine. Sports conditioning helps build endurance, flexibility and strength, which can help athletes improve their performance in their sport.