Perhaps the most basic form of exercise in the world, cardio—or cardiovascular exercise—is so named because it focuses not on developing a certain group of muscles, but rather on improving the performance of your heart, lungs, and vascular system. In other words, cardio training is designed for two main purposes: to burn calories and to improve endurance. There are benefits to doing both of these things, both health-wise and training-wise. Cardio exercises are great for your heart health and for your metabolism. These cardio workout ideas can help you manage diabetes and maintain your mental health.
Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise, and it can be accomplished on a treadmill or in the great outdoors. Indeed, one of the greatest benefits of running is that it can get you out of the weight room and into the world. But many people simply don’t know how to turn running into an exercise routine. The simplest running routine should go like this:
The use of bicycles has skyrocketed recently. It’s become a great way for people to get around and they are used almost as much for transportation as they are for exercise. You can find biking machines in the gym or you can take your own bicycle out of a spin, depending on your mood (and the health of your back). Bicycling is a great way get around—indeed, a human being on a bicycle is the most energy efficient animal on the planet. That means if you’re using it for exercise, you need to be at least somewhat deliberate about it.
The best way to get a great cardio workout on a bicycle is to try to keep a steady speed over a long distance. You can break up the distances in a similar way to running, but you should try to be consistent with the speed—or, at least, try not to take too many breaks!
Swimming is one of the most intense ways to work out aerobically. When you swim, you are putting resistance on almost every muscle in your body, and in that way, swimming can be something of a total body workout. Because of this, if you aren’t an experienced swimmer, you should start out slow. The last thing you want to do is exhaust yourself in the pool.
Of course, if you aren’t a great swimmer, there are other things you can do in the pool: jogging in the pool is actually a great aerobic workout, increasing your heart-heart and giving you basically all of the benefits of running without putting pressure on your joints and feet. Most swimming exercises are going to be low impact, which for people with joint pain or arthritis, makes them a great way to get a cardio workout.
Just because you’re doing cardio doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the weight room. In fact, there are some weight room activities you can do that will improve your cardio fitness. The main activity we recommend is something called circuit training. During circuit training, you aren’t lifting weights necessarily to build up muscle, but rather to build endurance. So you don’t lift at your max. Rather, you lift at 60% max for 30 seconds, then give yourself five seconds to get the next station and go another 30 seconds. Then repeat until you’ve gone to all of the “stations” (or machines) in the weight room.
This routine will leave you huffing and puffing, but it’s a great way to incorporate weights into your cardio routine.
Cardio training brings with it many long term benefits, mostly in terms of weight control and heart health. Cardio training can help you lower your blood pressure, improve your heart health, and lose weight (or keep it off). So if you’re thinking about starting a cardio routine, there’s no better time than the present! Get started today.
When doing cardio exercise, such as running, you can burn around 400 calories per hour.
When you are swimming, you can burn to 600 calories per hour, for a person who weighs 130 pounds.
When you do 20 minutes of aerobic activity, your body continues to burn calories for hours afterward.