- Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is any exercise that challenges the heart and vascular system to enhance the heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen to all of our tissues. It also collects waste from our bodies to be taken to the lungs to be removed
- The Center for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to intense cardio activity on most, if not all, days of the week
- Low impact cardio is aerobic activity during which one foot is usually kept on the ground at all times. This would include walking, hiking and low impact aerobic dancing. Exceptions to grounding one foot would be swimming or cycling
- High impact cardio includes running, jogging and exercise in which both feet may be off the ground, such as jumping jacks and high impact aerobic dancing
- Sports activity includes plenty of cardio exercise. Basketball and soccer are good examples. Tennis offers such activity with stops and starts, singles being a better choice than doubles for cardio. Baseball also gives us starts and stops, as does football.
- We may simply take a brisk walk around our neighborhood
- We could alternate jogging with walking for a bit more intensity
- Let’s consider jumping jacks, rope skipping or burpees. Burpees are shown below:
- Since jumping jacks, rope skipping and burpees may not be appropriate for long periods of time, we may consider warming up with these and then going outside for a walk
- We may do a circuit of dumbbell exercises. Use light weight and do these quickly and with little rest. Do more than one circuit if you want more intensity. Choose from any dumbbell exercises shown in my prior posts, or use the image below as a guide. This is an excellent form of cardio exercise, not usually considered as such. An added benefit is muscle development or toning of the working muscles. Completing all 3 circuits below quickly should be a challenging cardio workout for anyone. There are 15 total sets, since both sides are activated in some of the movements.
Here is a choice of light dumbbells, available from Amazon.
Reducing a part of our bodies that may be too fat or otherwise unattractive is not accomplished by repetitive exercise of that body part. We lose weight uniformly all over if we lose weight at all. Spot reduction doesn’t work! The best way to approach this is to shed weight all over by reducing calories and by cardio exercise. At the same time, we may continue exercising that body part to enhance our general appearance. That is the closest we can come to spot reduction.
So….cardio exercise not only improves our heart health; it also provides a means to shed weight when accompanied by a healthy low calorie diet.
CHECKING OUR PROGRESS
It is important to maintain our motivation for self-improvement by constantly checking the pertinent metrics. We need to know the following:
- Our weight loss or gain
- Our blood pressure and pulse
- Other pertinent body composition information
I have in the past read about diet and health programs that advised that we should not keep up with this information. This was apparently to help us avoid disappointments. This never worked for me, since I always wanted feedback, good or bad. To each his/her own, but an attempt to change our bodies lies largely in the realm of our personal motivation. It is not difficult or complicated and a positive result awaits any well-structured and continuous program.
- For quality blood pressure monitors and other related health items, check Omron here
- For a scale that shows precise body weight, fat mass, muscle mass and level of hydration, check FIT Track here
OTHER HOME WORKOUT RESOURCES
I have for many years enjoyed the easy accessibility and other conveniences of having a home treadmill. A workout every morning before breakfast appeals to me and my treadmill is a big part of my program. It is there, near my computer, regardless of the outside weather. I listen to music and view outdoor activity through a window as I work out.
In my opinion, the best source for cardio equipment (and all other categories of sports equipment) is Dick’s Sporting Goods. Here is a link to current discounts throughout their inventory. Save Up To 50% On This Week’s Deals at Dick’s Sporting Goods For cardio deals within this link, look for “Fitness Deals” and then “Cardio Equipment Deals up to 40% off”. Check for treadmills, upright bikes, recumbent bikes and other training choices.
- For audio fitness programs, including a free trial, check AAPTIV here
- For streaming free trial workout programs on TV, computer, tablet or mobile, check Beachbody here
By all means let’s include cardio in our home workout programs. It can be fun and exhilarating.
Cardio can be done with no equipment, with simple jump ropes or with my preference, treadmills. In my younger years, I never thought about cardio exercise since team sports or tennis always kept me busy. Now, less active, I crave the opportunity for cardio. The overall feeling of euphoria that accompanies endorphin release is a worthy goal by itself.
As for home workouts vs. gym visits, I have done both for many years and I still have a (free) gym membership. I rarely use it, since my preference is to do an early home workout, check off this part of my routine and then go about the rest of my day. No travel, no waiting in line for machines, no expense for membership.
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Be well and stay safe!