When it comes to exercise; you can achieve the best results and become a fit and healthy you, when you incorporate the 3 exercise components into your fitness routine; resistance training, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise and flexibility or stretching. Of the 3 components, cardio is the most common, especially among women. But whether you are a man or a woman, the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 or 6 days per week to maintain good cardiovascular health.
Studies have shown that for the general population even if you have to break up the 30 minutes into 5 or 10 minute blocks you will still receive positive health benefits. So lack of time is not an excuse and you can start a cardio program simply by walking. Experts recommend 10,000 steps per day which equals 5 miles. Though that sounds like a lot, it is doable with some simple changes in your every day routine. It is a good idea to invest in a pedometer to see how many steps you actually take. To get to that 10,000 step mark try these easy tips and watch your steps add up: park in the back of the parking lot, instead of using drive throughs get out of your car and walk inside, always take the stairs, when possible walk to a co workers office instead of sending a text or email and go for a brisk walk at lunch time!
If you are a more advanced exerciser try varying your cardio intensity throughout the week. I like to break up cardio exercises into light, medium and high intensity days to avoid burn out and over training. Light cardio intensity is great when you want to do cardio right after a strength training session. Otherwise for maximum benefit alternate medium and high intensity days with your strength training days. Change up the intensity with these cardiovascular activities;
1. High Intensity Cardio – up to 45 minutes
Alternate intense work intervals w/ recovery intervals using any kind of cardio exercise (for example: sprint for 1 minute then walk or jog for 2 minutes)
2. Medium Intensity Cardio – 45 to 60 minutes
Activities such as general exercise classes, running, treadmill, elliptical, bike
3. Light Intensity Cardio – 30 to 90 minutes
Activities such as walking, easy jogging, yoga, Pilates
To ensure you receive the maximum benefit from your cardiovascular training it is a good idea to vary your routines, intensity and equipment! Give it a try for a month and you will be amazed at the results! Of course always begin each session with a warm up for 8 to 10 minutes and end with a full body stretch and cool down!