Whether you’re getting some cardio in for weight loss, heart health, stress reduction, or just for fun, there are SO many different ways to get that heart rate up and get sweating. My best advice is to find something that you enjoy, something that won’t feel like a terrible chore, something that doesn’t hurt your body, and something that allows you to get into a groove with your thoughts, music, and/or breathing.
In conjunction with a consistent resistance training and regeneration program, cardio can be infinitely beneficial to your body and mental health. Just a few benefits are:
-Stronger, more efficient heart
-Lower body fat
-More energy throughout the day
Cardio for weight loss:
My ideal program for this would be a combination of circuit-style resistance training and pure cardio. Outside of strength training workouts, add in 2-4 days/week of the cardio of your choice. I’d recommend at least a day of each: interval training and endurance/steady-state training.
Interval training can be walking for 2 minutes and jogging for 2 minutes, it could be running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute, it could even be a :30 sprint every 90 seconds. Make up an interval that makes sense for you and will challenge you. For the endurance training, find a type of cardio that you can do at a low-moderate pace for 30-60 minutes, again challenge yourself. Work your way up to those times if you don’t feel like you’re ready for it.
Cardio for heart health:
For heart health, the American Heart Association recommends that everyone gets at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week. That’s doable, right? That activity could be walking, jogging, swimming, lifting weights, anyway you like to get your body moving. To increase the benefits, especially if you’re already at a decent fitness level, it would be best to add in rigorous bouts of activities. Try a 1:00 speed burst every few minutes to spike that heart rate and then bring it back down to a normal level. Or to completely mix it up, sprinkle in a couple rounds of squat thrusters during your cardio workout.
Cardio for stress reduction/pleasure:
Find that activity you enjoy the most and just GO. There’s no wrong way to move, unless it hurts. Push yourself as much as you’re comfortable with- somedays you might want to go balls to the wall INTENSE, somedays you’ll feel best doing something more mellow. Listen to your body and what feels good for you. Listen a podcast or audio book, invite a friend, enjoy the outside, and just breathe…you won’t regret it!
Along my journey I’ve spent many years in the pool swimming, however now I lean towards walking and jogging for cardio workouts. I’ve been digging dance walking on a treadmill or reading a book as I slowly get some steps in. The rower is another one of my favorite cardio machines because it incorporates upper body and lower body for a more intense workout.
Start with something you know you can do and layer on challenges as you progress. Keep it fun and keep it simple.