Whether you’re looking to lose weight, get in shape or stay in shape, cardio is a key component to your fitness routine. Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is an aerobic exercise meant to boost your heart rate and help blood pump more efficiently throughout the body. What are the best cardio workouts?
Running is the most simple form of cardio that offers a wide range of benefits, including a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, lower rates of cancer, stroke and metabolic diseases, as well as better bone strength. Running is not easy to get started with though and even seasoned runners will admit that it is hard, which can quickly deter motivation. All cardio workouts should include three components: a warm-up, the workout, and a cool-down. The warm-up is meant to wake up your system and get the blood flowing. The workout is when you get after it. Attack your workout with everything you have. During the cool-down, really take it down a notch to let your heart rate come down and make sure to stretch to avoid sore muscles. If you are a beginner, it is best to start with low to moderate intensive cardio activities. Some of these exercises include walking, swimming, biking and dancing. Don’t count out other activities you may enjoy either though.
Golf, skiing, skating and rowing are also great cardio activities.
If you are a beginner who would like to progress to becoming a runner, swimmer, cycler, etc. The best thing you can do for yourself is start slow. Don’t try to run a marathon your first week. Instead, focus on slowly building up to achievable milestones. For example, during week one, commit to running three times a week. During those runs, run five minutes and then walk five minutes and aim for a total of 20 – 30 minutes. The next week, try running 10 minutes and walking five minutes. Slowly build your progression. This will help to build endurance while also keeping you injury free.
If weight loss is your primary motivation for cardio, you’ll want to consider workouts such as HIIT (high intensity interval training), interval training, jumping rope, burpees, a stair climber, sprinting, moderate paced running, cycling or swimming.
A great fat burning elliptical workout (or could be done on a track or road) is to vary the speed for short bursts of time. This is common in a HIIT workout, which involves repeated bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by low intensity recovery. Think of this as sprinting for 30 seconds followed by walking for 90 seconds, and repeat several times. HIIT cardio workouts can result in fat burning, increased muscle tone, strength building, increased endurance and cardio fitness in a quicker time than other methods. Because of the intensity of these workouts, they are not meant to do every day. Sticking to two to three days a week is most recommended.
If running is not for you, what are the most fun, non-conventional cardio workouts? Rowing, dancing, kickboxing, hiking and skiing all count as cardio exercise! Whatever your preference, cardio is for you, you just need to find the best method.