If plodding along on a piece of cardio equipment is not quite your idea of fun, don’t let that be the reason for skipping the most important part of your workout. There are several styles of cardio training that will have you looking forward to your next training session instead of sighing as you lace up your running shoes.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is basically a fancy term for the function of your heart and lungs being efficient at transferring oxygen to your muscles during movement. The energy systems of the body are complex and require different fuels for different processes. Your cardio system is a constant as it’s vital to keeping you alive. And, with something this important it makes sense to keep it running in tip-top condition!
Training your cardio system will make it more efficient and help you perform your daily tasks with ease. There are several important health benefits associated with training your cardiorespiratory system but the main focus of cardio training is to effectively burn excess fuel. In this modern world of overeating and under-moving who doesn’t want to burn through stored body fat? Regular cardio training will help you avoid becoming overweight or lose excess weight you may already have stored.
I often hear complaints that cardio training is boring and takes too much time but gone are the days when getting on a treadmill for 60 minutes while reading a magazine is acceptable! Let me say it loudly “if you are able to read while training, you are not working hard enough.” Put down the magazine and break up your cardio workout into more manageable, and fun, increments of time.
Working out in a circuit is perfect for truly mixing up your moves and keeping it interesting; pick a few of your favorite cardio moves like walking, jogging, step ups or jumping rope, etc. and spend 60 seconds doing each exercise before moving onto the next.
You can mix up the time increments and mix up the exercises to suit your mood and inclination, just be sure that you try to accumulate at least 20-30 minutes of total movement time in order to get an effective cardio workout. Try changing up your moves and focusing on low impact/non jumping style movements at first and then, when you feel ready, progress to higher impact exercises.
Training doing intervals will stop you from getting bored because you will have to keep changing the intensity of your movements. Working out at an intensity level of four or five out of ten and then switching to six or seven is a great way to start out. An example of an effective cardio interval session is to walk for a few minutes then jog for a few minutes and repeat.
There are several theories about how much time you should spend at each interval for best results, but if you are new to exercising then a simple 50:50 ratio is a great starting point.
Starting out your cardio workout at a very low intensity and gradually increasing the difficulty is effective because it’s like slowly changing gears in a car – your body is ready for the next level as you progress. Think of a gradual hill with a slow increase in gradient and difficulty and then a slow decrease back to your starting point. As you crest the metaphorical (or real) hill, you won’t be able to feel bored because your workout will be getting more intense with each step.
Try all three cardio workout styles and decide which one works best for you. You don’t have to be consistent in the style you use but you do need to consistently complete your cardio workouts for best results.
I hope you can find a style that works for you or, if you are happy with your current style keep doing it AND tell me about it in the comments section. I love hearing about how people keep themselves motivated.
Happiness and fun are the most important factors in being and staying active because when you’re happy, you’re more likely to stay motivated and achieve your desired results. Think how much more you can enjoy life with a trained and efficient heart!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.
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