The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardio activities 3 to 5 times per week for 30 to 45 minutes. In fact cardiovascular activities are at the heart of most outdoor exercises and sports such as tennis, golf, skiing, basketball, volleyball, boxing and hiking. In fact, the release of endorphins and mood enhancing hormones are an added plus!
Cardiovascular workout is any type of exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs. An exercise routine or workout is cardiovascular in nature if it elevates your heart rate to nearly 60 - 85% of its maximum rate. Good examples of cardiovascular workout activities are walking, running, swimming, biking, aerobic dance, step aerobics, kick-boxing, rowing and jumping rope. Vary your cardio workout regimen with different speeds, inclines, distances and heights. Combining several cardio exercises in a workout session helps ward off boredom.
Each one has personal preferences for cardio workouts, be it running, swimming, walking or bicycling. Enjoy the benefits of a cardio workout with sustained activity for about 20 minutes or more. If you are considering running, begin with about 20 minutes but slowly work your body up to a 30 - 45 minutes workout. It will keep your heart in good condition. The efficiency of a cardio workout is measured in RPE (Rate of perceived exertion) and heart rate. You can check your heart rate by counting your pulse beats in 15 seconds and multiplying it by 4. RPE is measured on a scale of 0 - 10 where 2 is a warm up stage while 10 is a stage when conversation is impossible.
These exercises elevate your heart rate to about 50% of maximum level and use large muscle movements over a sustained period of time. The benefits of cardio workouts are many:
Avoid weights and cardio workouts on the same day. If you must do both, get into your cardiovascular workout after you are done with the weight training. Do not forget to stretch and warm up before the cardio workout. Let the body tissues warm up before they are worked out. Similarly, allow for a cool-down time with some mild stretching. Always check with a health professional before undertaking any exercise. Start off gently and work your way to better fitness levels. Breath well during the cardio workout to supply your muscles with oxygen.
Aerobic exercise should always be comfortable, regardless of your fitness levels. If you are hating every minute of it and feeling totally breathless, you are doing it all wrong. It means that your body is failing in providing oxygen to the muscles. Muscles need oxygen to work; the harder they work the more their oxygen needs. For your body to lose fat, it needs large doses of oxygen. Using the Borg Scale of perceived exertion helps in understanding the intensity of your aerobic activity. It runs from 6 to 20, where 6 indicates 'no feeling of exertion' to 20 where you find the activity 'extremely difficult'. Using the Borg Scale involves asking yourself questions.
Simple ways to incorporate activity in your life
Depending on your personality, you can either choose to exercise in the privacy of your home or work up a sweat in a local aerobic or tai chi class. You are more likely to succeed in your fitness goal if the activity is near at hand and easy to get started.