Get Started Today: Cardio 101

Intro

Cardio. For some it’s a dreaded word and for others it’s a passion they can’t get enough of. Either way you look at it though, cardiovascular exercise is one of the key components that should never be left out of a fitness plan.

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation throughout the body. There are various forms and methods of performing cardio exercise – all which will have specific benefits and guidelines.

So, you know you need cardio, but the real question is why you need cardio?  Getting a deeper understanding of cardio exercise may be what you need to get motivated to do it a little more often.

Health

Why Cardio is So Damn Good For You

Cardio exercises are responsible for a good respiratory system and heart condition. They strengthen the heart and also aids in lowering one’s blood pressure. They also increase the red blood cells count to mobilize oxygen within the body. Other benefits of cardio vascular exercises are included below.

  • It helps you burn fat and calories for weight loss
  • It makes your heart strong so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood
  • It increases your lung capacity
  • It helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes
  • It makes you feel good
  • It helps you sleep better
  • It helps reduce stress
  • It improves your sex life

We could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  Even just a few minutes of cardio can have health benefits! A 5 minute walk outside can boost your mood and help lower blood pressure, so even a little goes a long way.

Tips to get started

If you’ve never run before, don’t worry, because the best way to begin running is to walk. “Walking strengthens the muscles and tendons so your body can handle running’s impact,” said Andrew Kastor, head coach of the High Sierra Striders in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Start slowly and on the low end of the intensity scale and give yourself time to adjust and improve your fitness. If you’re completely new to cardiorespiratory training begin with something light like a brisk walk for 20 minutes, this will allow your body to adjust to aerobic training while minimizing the risk of soreness and overuse injuries.

Start with 2-3 sessions a week and keep your intensity high enough to make you sweat and get your heart rate up, but light enough you can still carry on a light conversation. Each week you can increase speed or duration, but do not increase it by more than 5-10% each week.

As your fitness level increases gradually increase the number of sessions per week and the intensity or length of the sessions until you are performing 3-5 sessions of 60 minutes a week at a moderate to high intensity. A high intensity cardiorespiratory workout would be one in which you are working hard enough that you can only answer short yes or no type questions. Give your body plenty of time to improve and adapt, and eventually you will have a high level of fitness.

What you need

You don’t need much for a super cardio workout, just good shoes, a way to check your pulse, and something to sip on.

Running in your cross-trainers is like pounding in a nail with a screwdriver: You’ll probably get the job done, but there’s a much better tool available. Running shoes are specifically designed to handle the impact forces produced when you run. New runners should head to a specialty running store and ask the staff for an evaluation. An experienced shoe salesperson will evaluate your needs and make footwear recommendations for you. You should also be on the lookout for deals on online shopping sites which can save you a lot of money.

Use a heart rate monitor to keep track of exercise intensity. The higher your heart rate the more calories you are burning, but you want to be able to pace yourself to avoid becoming exhausted after 2 minutes! You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age in years by 220. Stay within 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate when exercising.

Drink water! The more you sweat, the more fluid you need to replace. Keep a water bottle handy before and after exercise and take one along for long duration workouts.

Conclusion

Cardio workouts can contribute to all your fitness goals. The benefits of cardio workouts are abundant, and they can contribute a lot in improving the quality of your life. If you haven’t started as yet, then this is the time to get savvy with cardio workouts. Making cardio vascular workout a part and parcel of your life would be a great way to stay fit and healthy for long. In this demanding era, life is almost incomplete without it.

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